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Volume I 





Copyright, 1898, by 

Copyright, 1904, by 

Copyright, 1905, by 


First Edition (Parti.) printed January, 1899. 

Reprinted October, 1899, and December, 1903. 

New Edition (Volume I.), Revised and Rearranged, January, 1905. 

Reprinted May, 1908, September, 1909, and January, 1913. 

Reprinted, with Revisions, April, tqi7; July, 1921. 

Nortooorj $rffl« 

J. 8. Cubing iV Co. -- Berwksh A Smltb Oo. 

Norwood, Ma--*., r.s.A. 







" AnimcB, quales neque candidiores 
c* Terra tulit, neque quels me sit devinctior alter* 




The " History of the American Revolution " has 
been received with a degree of favour greatly surpass- 
ing the expectations of the writer. Americans, espe- 
cially, have learned with pleasure the brotherly feelings 
entertained towards the colonists, from the beginning 
to the end of the controversy, by a very large section 
of the British people. The author has received assur- 
ances to that effect from historical students and writers, 
and from Statesmen at Washington of the highest au- 
thority, in private letters which it would not be becom- 
ing to print ; and the same view has been developed by 
many leading newspapers in the States. One passage, 
from a well-known New York journal, may be extracted 
as a fair specimen of a very great number of these 
opinions. " We have been able to reproduce only a 
small part of the evidence brought forward by Sir 
George Trevelyan to show that the majority of the 
British people were opposed to the attempt to coerce 
the American Colonies. In our opinion, all candid 
readers of the two volumes will acknowledge that he 
has proved his case. It would not be easy to over- 
estimate the effect which such a demonstration ought 
to have, and doubtless will have, on the feeling with 



which Americans will hereafter regard Great Britain. 
It is manifest that most of our school histories of the 
United States will have to be rewritten, for the major 
part of them fail to recognize the momentous truth 
which the work before us must be held to have 

The only return for such indulgence, which the author 
can make, is to do his best to deserve it. He com- 
menced the book mainly for the personal pleasure of 
writing about events which had always attracted and 
moved him ; and he is conscious that the First Part, 
which was published in 1899, made its appearance 
originally in a defective form. That First Part has 
now been completely re-arranged and somewhat re- 
written, and henceforward will stand as the First Vol- 
ume of the " History of the American Revolution." A 
small amount of irrelevant matter has been expunged, 
and some important, (and it is hoped not uninteresting,) 
touches have been added. The chapters are consecu- 
tively numbered throughout the volumes, which form a 
continuous and sustained history of the period whereof 
they treat. 

Something has been said in both countries about the 
absence of a printed list of the authorities consulted ; 
but reflection will show that the composition of such a 
list would be undesirable and, indeed, impossible. No 
one could aspire to write a history of the American 
Revolution who had not read, and re-read, many scores 


of books from cover to cover ; who had not examined 
and indexed several hundreds of other volumes; and 
who had not looked into, or through, an innumerable 
multitude of memoirs, pamphlets, newspapers, maga- 
zines, poems, and collections of printed and imprinted 
documents. The material for such a work is every- 
where; and the collection of that material has been 
to the author at first the unconscious, and of late the 
conscious, occupation and delight of a lifetime. To 
print a list of those books from which something has 
been taken, — and those which have been turned over 
with no result except to find the confirmation of what 
had been Learned already, — might well be regarded as 
ostentatious; and most readers will excuse, and proba- 
bly applaud, the omission. Wherever specially impor- 
tant assistance has been derived from any author, 
whether living or dead, full and grateful recognition 
is expressed in the notes throughout the volumes. 

Wei combe, 





Effect of the Repeal of the Stamp Act on American Sentiment I 
Forces in British Politics which worked against a Permanent 

Reconciliation ........ 2 

Fall of Rockingham ; Townshend's Custom Duties . . 4 

Protests from America ; their Reception by the Government . 7 
Troops sent to Boston . . . . . * . .11 

Causes of the Want of Acquaintance with America which pre- 
vailed in England . . . . . . . .12 

Difficulties of Communication . . . . . .12 

The Colonial Governors ....... 14 

Want of Sympathy between the Rulers and the Ruled . . 18 
Sudden Increase of Luxury in Great Britain .... 20 
Fighting Qualities of our Aristocracy 24 

Impression produced on the Young French Nobles by the 

Society in America ... . . . . . 25 

Contrast with Europe ........ 27 

The Middle Class in Great Britain ...... 29 

Education in America . . . . . . . 31 

Eton and the English Universities 32 


John Adams . 
Benjamin Franklin 






Other Leaders of the American Revolution 
George Washington .... 

Loyalty of A mericans to the King . 

Their Attachment to the Mother Country 

Their Admiration of Lord Chatham 

Part played by the Colonies in Chatham's War 

Social Conditions in America 

American Women 






Dangers of the Ministerial Policy .70 

Lawyers in America ........ 72 

The Non-importation Agreement ...... 74 

Political Offenders in America made liable to be tried in 

England 75 

Boston occupied by the Troops ...... 78 

Ill-feeling between Royal and Provincial Military Officers . 80 
Hostility to the Army among the Townsmen ; and the Causes 

of it 85 

The Boston Massacre 89 

Acquittal of Captain Preston 91 

An Opportunity of Pacification lost ; Grafton and the Tea-duty 92 

Manufactures in Great Britain and America .... 96 
How the Revenue Laws were observed at Home and in the 

Colonies . 98 

Admiral Montagu ; Affair of the Schooner Gaspee . . .102 
Payment of American Judges by the Crown ; Massachusetts 

objects to the Proposal . . . . . . .104 

The East India Company ; Resistance to the Importation of 

the Tea ..... . io5 


Shock produced on British Opinion by the Tidings from 

America . . . . . . . . . .110 

cox/ ; VTS 

XI 11 

Markham ; Lord ( 


Elimination from the Cabinet of AH Independent Elements; 

( iranl)\'s I )<ath ........ 

Pliability of the Ministers ; LordGower; Lord Barrington 
Lord Dartmouth ......... 

Burke incites the Whig Aristocracy to oppose the System of 

Persona] ( \o\ ernmeni 
Inertness of the < Opposition 
Burke's Activity and Enei g) ; I h 

Burke and Pai liamentary Reform 
The Absentee Tax 

Chatham in the I [0US€ of Lords 

Retirement of Charles Fox from Office . 
His Political Career apparently ruined 
His I )el.t i discharged .... 
Character of his Correspondence 

1 lis Repentance ..... 

1 deaths in the I lolland Family 

The Ministers whom Fox had left . 

The Rockingham \\ 'hi^s 

Fox's Way of Life ami Choice of Friends 

Advent of the American Question . 

1 1 1 

ri 5 



; 26 











Franklin in London ........ 1 5 5 

The Massachusetts Letters ....... 157 

The Government resolve to make an Example of Boston . 163 
Proceedings in Parliament: the Boston Port Bill; the Bill for 

altering the Government of Massachusetts . . . 166 

Intolerant Conduct of the Majority ..... 169 

Self-effacement of the Opposition ...... 173 

The Part taken by Charles Fox 174 

The Bills are passed . . . - . . . .178 



Effect of the News in Boston . 
Blockade of the Harbour 
Proposal for a Congress .... 
Massachusetts supports Boston 
Severities exercised against the Loyalists 

The Other Colonies sustain Massachusetts 

Journey of the Massachusetts Delegates to Philadelphia 

History of the First Congress .... 







Parliament dissolved ; Grenville"s Electoral Act 
George the Third and the Conduct of Elections 
Fox and his Seat ...... 

Burke at Bristol ...... 

Country Gentlemen in Parliament . 

Charles Fox a Favourite with the House of Commons 



Opening of the Winter Session ; Wilkes a Member of Par- 
liament .......... 218 

Presentation of Papers about America . . . . .221 

The Poet Laureate 222 


The King's Sentiments about America . 
Attitude of Chatham and of Fox 



Public Anxiety aroused by the Intelligence from the Colonies 
Fox moves an Amendment to the Address ; Gibbon's Estimate 

of his Performance ........ 235 

Lord North attempts to meet Fox's Point of View . . . 238 
Tumultuous Scene in the House of Commons ; Sir Gilbert 

Elliot .......... 240 

Bill to exclude the Colonists from the American Fisheries . 243 

Consternation among Men of Business ..... 245 

Debates in Parliament ; Burke ; Fox ; Henry Dundas . . 246 
The Colonists taunted with Cowardice by the Ministers < .250 





Franklin, in Concert with Lord Chatham, makes a Last Effort 

for Conciliation ........ 254 

Failure of the Attempt ; Franklin sails for Home . . . 257 

Amherst refuses to command iii America .... 259 

The Major-Generals ; William Howe: Burgoyne; Clinton . 261 

Incapacity of Gage . ........ 264 

Gage seizes Military Stores at Cambridge .... 266 

The Patriots on the Alert ....... 269 

Singular Condition of New England ..... 270 

Proceedings of the Massachusetts Congress . . . 271 

Growing Irritation of the British Army ..... 276 

State of Things inside Boston ...... 277 

Royal Officers underrate the Soldiership of Colonists . 280 
Military Expeditions into the Country Districts; Marshfield; 

Marblehead 282 

Adventures of a British Officer ...... 283 

The British march on Concord; Lexington; the Retreat to 

Charlestown ......... 286 

Washington's Opinion of the Affair ..... 289 


Massachusetts asks for Help ; New England Mies to Arms 
Investment of Boston ...... 

The Major-Generals arrive ; Burgoyne . 

The Tactical Situation ...... 

The Americans occupy the Peninsula of Charlestown 

The British resolve to drive them out 

The Assailants twice repulsed; Howe prepares for a Third 


Confusion in Rear of the American Position . 

The Redoubt stormed ; Retreat of the Colonists 

Loss of the Two Armies ; Effect of the Battle upon the 

Revolution and the War .... 









The Lesson which Bunker's Hill taught the Colonists 

Washington nominated to be Commander-in-Chief 

He arrives at Cambridge ...... 

Camp of the Americans : their Dress, Discipline, and Com 
missariat ......... 

Scarcity within the City of Boston ..... 

Want of Fuel 

Difficulties of Preserving the Morale of the Garrison ; Bur 
goyne ; Lord Rawdon . 

Recall of Gage 

Howe takes the Command 

Activity of the American Whaleboats 

Political Complexion of the Naval Appointments made by 

Sandwich ; Admiral Graves ..... 
Foundation of the American Navy ..... 
Supplies sent out from England ..... 
Burning of Falmouth and of Norfolk .... 










Washington foresees the Approaching Dissolution of his Force 348 

He undertakes the Formation of a Continental Army . . 349 
Conduct of the Connecticut Militia; Want of Arms and 

Ammunition . . . . . . . . 351 

Impatience of the Country ; Washington's Firmness . . 354 

The Ranks of the Continental Army begin to fill . . . 356 

Capture of the Nancy ........ 357 

The King's Speech reaches Boston 359 

Howe meditates the Evacuation of the City .... 361 

Washington obtains a Train of Artillery .... 364 

He seizes the Peninsula of Dorchester ..... 367 

A Battle threatened 369 

Occupation of Nook's Hill ; Washington at Boston, and Napo- 
leon at Toulon 371 



Emigration of the Loyalists ....... 373 

Their Character and Manners ; their Attitude towards the 

Adherents of the Opposite Party ..... 375 

Rumour that Boston was to be burned ..... 380 

The British abandon Boston ....... 383 

Entrance of the American Army; Joy and Relief of the 

Citizens .......... 384 

Capture of British Transports ; Restoration of the Castle . 386 
Remark of Frederic the Great; Conduct and Result of the 

Campaign ......... 388 


I. Eton in the Days of Charles Fox ..... 391 

II. Fox's Letters to his Mother ...... 392 

111. Franklin, and the Signing of the Treaty with France . 394 

. // the End of the I 'oiums 

Map of Boston with its Environs* 

O thou, that sendest out the man 

To rule by land and sea, 
Strong mother of a Lion-line, 
Be proud of those strong sons of thine 

Who wrench'd their rights from thee ! 






I\ the spring oi [766 a new chapter ol peace and 
good-will, — the first, as it seemed, of main- fair volumes, 
— had opened before the delighted eyes of all true 
fellow-countrymen on either side of the Atlantic. "We 

should find it hard," SO writes an excellent and learned 
author, " to overstate the happiness which, for a few 
weeks, filled the hearts of the American people at the 

news thai the detested Stamp Ad bad been repealed. 

As, in 1765, through the bond of a common tear, the 

thirteen colonies had been brought for the first time into 
some sort of union, so, in 1766, that union was for a 
while prolonged through the bond of a common joy. 
Certainly, never before had all these American com- 
munities been so swept by one mighty wave of grateful 
enthusiasm and delight." ' 

No citizen oi America, who recollected anything, for- 
got how and where he heard the glad tidings. Her 
history, for a year to come, reads like the golden age. 
Philadelphia waited for the fourth of June in order to 
celebrate the King's Birthday, and the repeal of the 

1 Professor Tyler's Literary History of the American Revolution. This 

book is a reinarkaMe specimen of the historical faculty, and the descriptive 
power, which have been expended by Americans on particular features in 
that ^reat panorama. 

VOL. I. B 


Stamp Act, together. Toasts were drunk to the Royal 
Family, to Parliament, and to " our worthy and faithful 
agent, Dr. Franklin." Franklin, determined that his 
household should rejoice in real earnest, sent his wife 
and daughter a handsome present of satins and brocades, 
to replace the clothes of their own spinning which they 
had worn while the crisis lasted, and while all good 
patriots refused to buy anything that had come from 
British ports. John Adams kept the occasion sadly. 
" A duller day than last Monday, when the Province 
was in a rapture for the repeal of the Stamp Act, I do 
not remember to have passed. My wife, who had long 
depended on going to Boston, and my little babe, were 
both very ill of an whooping-cough." But, in his view, 
the great concession had done its work thoroughly and 
finally. In November 1766, after six months' observa- 
tion of its effects, he wrote : " The people are as quiet 
and submissive to Government as any people under the 
sun ; as little inclined to tumults, riots, seditions, as they 
were ever known to be since the first foundation of the 
Government. The repeal of the Stamp Act has com- 
posed every wave of popular disorder into a smooth and 
peaceful calm." 

The mother-country had erred, had suffered, had re- 
pented, and had now retrieved her fault. Parliament, at 
the instance of Lord Rockingham and his colleagues, 
embodied in a statute the assertion of its own right to 
make laws binding on the colonies in all cases whatso- 
ever ; and then it repealed the Stamp Act, as a practical 
admission that the right in question should be exercised 
only in cases where the colonies did not object. The 
proceeding was intensely English ; but unfortunately it 
lacked the most important condition of a great English 
compromise, for it was not accepted by the beaten party. 
George Grenville, the parent of the Stamp-duty, and 
reputed to be the greatest living master of finance, bit- 
terly resented the reversal of his policy ; and he spoke 
the views of a very powerful minority of the Commons. 
In the other House a Protest was carefully drawn with 


the purpose of defying, and insulting, what was then 
the unanimous opinion of Americans. It was signed 
by a body of lay peers, respectable at any rate in num- 
bers, and by five bishops, who wrote their names between 
those of Sandwich and Weymouth like men so sure of 
their cause that there was no need to be nice about their 
company. Warburton of Gloucester, the ablest and by 
far the most distinguished among them, has left on 
record his own view of the duty of a lather of the Church 
when dealing with affairs of State ; and the theory which 
satisfied him was good enough for his brethren. "Let 
us private men," he wrote, when already a bishop, "pre- 
serve and improve the little we have left of private vir- 
tue ; and, it one oi those infected with the influenza of 
politics should ask mo. ' What then becomes of your 
public virtue ? ' I would answer him with an old Spanish 
proverb: 'The King has enough for us all.'' 

'The King's idea ol public virtue at this memorable 
conjuncture was notorious everywhere, and talked about 
freely by every one except by the Ministers, who, from 
the unfortunate obligations o\ their position, were bound 
to pretend to believe the Royal word. The course of 
action which alone could secure peace and welfare to his 
Empire had in him an opponent more resolute and 
bitter even than Grenville. No Protest, phrased deco- 
rously enough to be admitted upon the Journals of the 
House of Lords, could have adequately expressed the 
sentiments oi George the Third towards his subjects 
beyond the water. (hi their account the dislike which 
he had all along entertained for his Ministers had deep- 
ened into busy and unscrupulous hostility. He looked 
upon the conciliation of America, which those Ministers 
had effected, as an act of inexpiable disloyalty to the 
Crown. He thwarted them by an intrigue which has 
acquired a shameful immortality from the literary ability 
of a statesman who suffered from it, and of historians 
who have recounted it. J low the King", acting through 
the King's Friends, harassed and hampered the King's 
Ministers during the debates on the Stamp Act, is told 

b 2 


by Burke in the " Thoughts on the Discontents," and by 
Macaulay in the second Essay on Chatham ; and seldom 
or never did either of them write more pointedly and 
powerfully. The process is concisely described by Mr. 
Lecky, in the twelfth chapter of his History. " When 
the measure was first contemplated, two partisans of 
Bute came to the King, offering to resign their places, 
as they meant to oppose the repeal ; but they were told 
that they might keep their places and vote as they 
pleased. The hint was taken, and the King's Friends 
were among the most active, though not the most con- 
spicuous, opponents of the Ministers." 

When, in spite of his efforts, the work of pacification 
was accomplished, George the Third never forgave his 
wise and faithful servants for having saved him from 
himself. Determined to punish, he .fell diligently to 
the task of finding an instrument ; and he soon was able 
to place his hand on a noble weapon, which he used 
with remarkable skill in a very bad cause. The love of. 
Britain for Pitt was not stronger than the aversion with 
which, in life, and after death, he was regarded by 
Britain's sovereign. But at this crisis the great Com- 
moner was recommended to the Royal notice by the 
circumstance, which was unhappily notorious, that he 
looked coldly upon the statesmen whom George the 
Third hated ; and, as soon as the King was sure of Pitt, 
he got quit of Rockingham. Under cover of a name 
which has elevated and adorned the annals of our Par- 
liament, was formed a bad and foolish administration 
which woefully misdirected our national policy. That 
tissue of scrapes and scandals which marked their con- 
duct of home affairs belongs to a period when Chatham 
was no longer in office ; but the most disastrous and 
gratuitous of their blunders abroad dates from the time 
when he still was nominally Prime Minister. On the 
second of June, 1767, a series of Resolutions were 
passed in Committee of Ways and Means, imposing 
duties upon a number of commodities admitted into the 
British colonies and plantations in America ; and it was 


the seventeenth of these Resolutions which provided 
"That a duty of $d. per pound-weight avoirdupois be 
laid upon all tea imported into the said colonics and 

It is a measure of the greatness of Chatham that, citi- 
zen and subject as he was, his opinions and predilec- 
tions, nay his very moods and prejudices, affected the 
genera] course of events as deeply as it has, ever or any- 
where, been affected by the character of the most power- 
ful monarchs who have had an absolute hold on the 
resources and policy of a State. Just as the history of 
Germany would have run in other channels if Frederic 
the Great had not been Kin:;- ot Prussia at the death of 
the Emperor ('harks the Sixth; just as Spain would 
have been spared untold calamities if anv one but 
Napoleon had been on the throne of France when 
Ferdinand quarrelled with his father; so the fortunes 
of the English-speaking world would have looked very 
different in the retrospect it only Chatham had been in 
the mind to act cordially with the right men at the right 
moment. With Rockingham as his second in command, 

— with Lord John Cavendish, or Dowdeswell, or, (still 
better,) with Burke as his Chancellor of the Exchequer, 

— he might have lingered in the retirement, to which his 
shattered health inclined him, without anv damage to 
the public interest or to his own fame. Hut with Graf- 
ton dispensing the patronage, and holding Cabinets, in 
his absence, and with Charles Townshend master of the 
revels in the House of Commons, the step was taken, 
and taken in the name of Chatham, which in one day 
reversed the policy that he had nearest at heart, and 
undid the work of which he was most justly proud. 
The Boston Massacre; the horrors of the Indian war- 
fare; the mutual cruelties of partisans in the Carolinas ; 
Saratoga and Yorktown ; the French war ; the Spanish 
war; the wholesale ruin of the American loyalists; the 
animosity towards Great Britain which for so long after- 
wards coloured the foreign policy of the United States ; 

— all flowed in direct and inevitable sequence from 


that fatal escapade. Among the bright possibilities of 
history, very few can be entertained with better show 
of reason than a belief that the two nations might have 
kept house together with comfort, and in the end might 
have parted friends, if the statesman whom both of 
them equally revered and trusted would have thrown in his 
lot with that English party which, almost to a man, shared 
his wise views in regard to the treatment of our colonies, 
and sympathised with the love which he bore their people. 

The first cardinal mistake had now been made, and 
the next was not long in coming. British politicians 
had much else to talk of ; and the hardworking, quiet- 
living British people, after the Stamp Act was repealed, 
had returned to their business, and put America out of 
their thoughts, as they supposed, for ever. They were 
not prepared for the instant and bewildering sensation 
which the news of what had been done at Westminster 
produced across the ocean. It was, indeed, a rude awak- 
ening for the colonists, one and all, irrespective of class, 
creed, and calling. In the assurance that past scores 
were now clean wiped out, they had settled themselves 
down to the sober enjoyment of a victory which seemed 
the more secure because all concerned had their part in 
it ; for if America had carried her point, England had 
conquered herself. And now, without warning, without 
fresh reason given, the question was reopened by the 
stronger of the two parties under circumstances which 
to the weaker portended ruin. The situation was far 
more ominous than if the Stamp-duty had been left 
where it was. Parliament, by repealing the Act, had 
publicly recognised and admitted that the claim to tax 
America was one to which America would never submit ; 
and yet, a twelvemonth afterwards, that claim was re- 
vived on a larger scale, and with a deliberation which 
showed that this time England meant business. It was 
impossible for the colonists, — who were all, in a sort, 
politicians, one as much as another, — to understand 
that the great mass of Englishmen attended seldom and 


little to a matter which for themselves was everything; 
which had exclusively occupied their minds, and con- 
sumed their energies, during six and thirty busy and 
anxious months ; and which, almost against their will, 
had taught them to feel as a nation, to meet in general 
council, and to plan combined action. 

But, if America did not take sufficient account of the 
indifference and ignorance of England as a whole, her 
instinct told her, and told her rightly, that great men 
behind the scenes, before they raised the standard of 
British supremacy, had counted the cost, and were now 
fighting to win. Awed by the suddenness and magni- 
tude of the peril, the colonial leaders acted with circum- 
spection and rare self-control. Abstaining themselves, 
and with notable success restraining their followers, 
from the more violent courses which had marked the 
campaign against the Stamp Act, they undertook the 
task of appealing to the good sense and the friendliness 
of the British people. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, 
so true to England that he lost all heart for politics as 
soon as a time came when he could no longer be true to 
England without being disloyal to America, put the case 
against the Revenue Acts with conclusive force, and in 
attractive shape. His " Fanner's Letters," having done 
their work at home, were published by Franklin in 
London, were translated into French, and were read by 
everybody in the two capitals of civilisation who read 
anything more serious than a play-bill. The members 
of the Massachusetts Assembly resolutely and soberly 
assumed the responsibility of giving an official voice to 
the grievances of America. They explained their con- 
tention in a letter which their agent in England was 
directed to lay before the British Cabinet ; and they 
transmitted a Petition to the King, recounting the early 
struggles of their colony, its services to the Empire, the 
rights and privileges with which it had been rewarded, 
and its recent intolerable wrongs. The language used 
was manly, simple, and even touching, if anything could 
have touched him whom they still tried to regard as the 


father of his people. The documents were written in 
draft by Samuel Adams ; and one of them, at least, was 
revised no less than seven times in full conclave with 
the object of excluding any harsh or intemperate ex- 
pression. And then they prepared themselves for the 
very worst; because, though they fain would hope 
against hope, they only too well knew that the worst 
would come. They addressed a circular letter to the 
other representative Assemblies on the American conti- 
nent, urging them to take such steps, within the limits 
of the Constitution, as would strengthen the hands of a 
sister colony which had done its duty, according to its 
light, in the presence of a great emergency, and which 
now ventured freely to make known its mind to them 
upon a common concern. 

It was all to no purpose. Their Petition was thrown 
aside unanswered, much as if they had been a meeting 
of heritors in Scotland who had passed a resolution call- 
ing for the repeal of the Act of Union during the hours 
which ought to have been spent on parish business. 
But, as regards the circular letter, even that parallel 
could not hold ; for no Minister would have treated the 
humblest local body in any of the three Kingdoms in the 
style which the Secretary of State employed in dealing 
with the senates of America. 1 Lord Hillsborough in- 
formed the Governor of Massachusetts that her repre- 
sentatives must rescind the resolution on which that 
audacious letter was based, or be sent back to their 
homes then and there. The Assemblies of the twelve 
other colonies were enjoined, in so many words, to take 
no notice of the appeal from Boston, and to treat it 

1 George the Third, and his Cabinet, were much less wise in their genera- 
tion than Charles the Second, and his Commissioners of Trade and Plan- 
tations. John Evelyn, who was on the Board, gives an interesting account 
of their first meeting, which took place on the twenty-sixth of May, 1671. 
The King specially recommended them to consider the form in which to 
address the colony of New England, where the people were so rich, power- 
ful, and independent. " Some of our Council," said Evelyn, " were for 
sending them a menacing letter, which those who better understood the 
peevish and touchy humour of that colony were utterly against." 


with the contempt which it deserved, on pain, in their 
case likewise, of an immediate prorogation or dissolution. 
Such a message could bring only one answer from men 
who had our blood in their veins, and in whose village 
schools our history was taught as their own. Junius, 
no blind partisan of the Americans, wrote of them with 
force and truth. " They have been driven into excesses 
little short of rebellion. Petitions have been hindered 
from reaching the Throne ; and the continuance of one 
of the principal Assemblies rested upon an arbitrary 
condition, which, considering the temper they were in, 
it was impossible they should comply with." At Bos- 
ton, in the fullest House that had ever met, ninety-two 
members, as against seventeen, flatly declined to with- 
draw the letter. The Assemblies of the other colonies 
stood stoutly by their fugleman, and faced, and in some 
cases paid, the threatened penalty. 

In one city and another, from New York to Charles- 
ton, the language which had been familiar under the 
Stamp Act again was heard. The Sons of Liberty be- 
gan to stir. The glorious majority was celebrated by 
processions with ninety-two torches, and banquets with 
an almost interminable list of toasts. Above all, a com- 
bination against the use of British manufactures once more 
was openly talked of ; and the young ladies looked out 
their spinning-wheels, and the young gentlemen reflected 
ruefully that the weather was already warm for home- 
made linsev-wolsey. Boston itself, all things considered, 
was tranquil almost to tameness, until an unhappy inci- 
dent ruffled the peaceful waters. The captain of a frig- 
ate, which mounted guard over the town, had taken 
advantage of his station at the mouth of the harbour to 
intercept and impress New England sailors as they re- 
turned home from sea. During the height of his unpop- 
ularity a boat's-crew from his ship, on an alleged breach 
of the revenue laws, seized a sloop which, to make the 
matter worse, was owned by a prominent patriot, and 
was called " The Liberty." A disturbance ensued, far 
less serious than the magistrates of Sunderland and 


Hartlepool, and every North of England port which 
possessed a custom-house and was visited by a press- 
gang, in those rough times were accustomed to deal 
with as part of the year's work. But the English Min- 
isters were sore and nervous. The mildest whisper of 
a non-importation agreement, and the most distant echo 
of a revenue riot, so long as they came from beyond the 
Western waters, awoke reminiscences which were too 
much for their temper and their equanimity. The King, 
especially, had Boston on the brain. To this day there 
are some among her sons who can forgive his memory 
for anything rather than for the singular light in which 
he persisted in regarding their classic city. The capital 
of Massachusetts, in the eyes of its Sovereign, was 
nothing better than a centre of vulgar sedition, bristling 
with Trees of Liberty and strewn with brickbats and 
broken glass ; where his enemies went about clothed in 
homespun, and his friends in tar and feathers. 

Whatever his view might be, George the Third was 
now well able to impose it on the Ministry. Chatham 
had retired, and the Duke of Grafton, who was not 
master of his colleagues, held the office of First Lord 
of the Treasury. The Bedfords by this time had con- 
trived to establish themselves solidly in the Government, 
and were always at hand to feed the flame of the King's 
displeasure. They eagerly represented to him that his 
authority had been trifled with long enough, and prom- 
ised that five or six frigates and one strong brigade 
would soon bring not only Massachusetts, but the whole 
American continent, to reason. Lord Shelburne, to his 
infinite credit, fought the battle of sense and humanity 
singlehanded within the Cabinet, and stoutly declared 
that he would be no party to despatching to New Eng- 
land a cutter, or a company, in addition to the force that 
was there already. Franklin, whom Shelburne admired 
and believed in, had reminded the House of Commons 
that a regiment of infantry could not oblige a man to 
take stamps, or drink tea, if he chose to do without ; and 
had expressed it as his opinion that, if troops were sent 


to America, they would not find a rebellion, although they 
would be only too likely to make one. 1 But Franklin's 
wit had too much wisdom in it for George the Third, and 
for such of his counsellors as knew what advice was ex- 
pected of them. The Bedfords curried the day, and 
Shelburne resigned office. Early in October 1768, eight 
ships of war lay In Boston harbour. Their loaded 
broadsides commanded a line of wharves a great deal 
more peaceable than was the quay of North Shields 
during one of the periodical disputes between the keel- 
men and the coal-shippers. Cannon and infantry were 
landed, and the men were marched on to the Common 
with drums beating and colours flying, and sixteen 
rounds of ball-cartridge in their pouches. The first 
contingent consisted of two battalions, and the wing of 
another; and subsequent reinforcements increased the 
garrison until Boston contained at least one red-coat for 
every five of the men, women, and children who made 
up the total of her seventeen thousand inhabitants. 

Thus the second stage was reached in the downward 
course. How serious a step it was, how absolutely ir- 
retrievable except on the condition of being retracted 
forthwith, is now a commonplace of history. But its 
gravity was acknowledged at the time by few English- 
men ; and those who were specially responsible for the 
conduct of affairs were blind amidst the one-eyed. It 
is not too much to say that, among our own people of 
every degree, the governing classes understood America 
the least. One cause of ignorance they had in common 
with others of their countrymen. We understand the 
Massachusetts of 1768 better than it was understood by 
most Englishmen who wrote that date at the head of 
their letters ; for, when the question is that of getting to 

1 Examination of Dr. Benjamin Franklin before the House in Committee. 
The Parliamentary History of England, vol. xiv., p. 147. Burke said that, 
when Franklin appeared before Parliament to be examined on the condi- 
tion of things in America, it was like a parcel of schoolboys interrogating 
the master. 


know what the world outside Europe was like four gen- 
erations ago, distance of time is less of an obstacle to us, 
in an age when all read, than was distance of space to 
our ancestors before the days of steam and telegraph, 
A man bound for New York, as he sent his luggage on 
board at Bristol, would willingly have compounded for 
a voyage lasting as many weeks as it now lasts days. 
When Franklin, still a youth, went to London to buy 
the press and types by which he hoped to found his 
fortune, he had to wait the best part of a twelvemonth 
for the one ship which then made an annual trip between 
Philadelphia and the Thames. When, in 1762, already 
a great man, he sailed for England in a convoy of mer- 
chantmen, he spent all September and October at sea, 
enjoying the calm weather, as he always enjoyed every- 
thing ; dining about on this vessel and the other ; and 
travelling " as in a moving village, with all one's neigh- 
bours about one." Adams, during the height of the war, 
hurrying to France in the finest frigate which Congress 
could place at his disposal, — and with a captain who 
knew that, if he encountered a superior force, his dis- 
tinguished guest did not intend to be carried alive under 
British hatches, — could make no better speed than five 
and forty days between Boston and Bordeaux. Lord 
Carlisle, carrying an olive-branch the prompt delivery 
of which seemed a matter of life and death to the Min- 
istry that sent him out, was six weeks between port and 
port, tossed by gales which inflicted on his brother 
Commissioners agonies such as he forbore to make a 
matter of joke even to George Selwyn. General Ried- 
esel, conducting the Brunswick auxiliaries to fight in a 
quarrel which was none of theirs, counted three mortal 
months from the day when he stepped on deck at Stade 
in the Elbe to the day when he stepped off it at Quebec 
in the St. Lawrence. If such was the lot of plenipoten- 
tiaries on mission, and of generals in command, it may 
be imagined how humbler individuals fared, the duration 
of whose voyage concerned no one but themselves. 
Waiting weeks on the wrong side of the water for a full 



complement of passengers, and weeks more for a fair 
wind; — and then beating across in a badly found tub, 
with a cargo of millstones and old iron rolling about 
below ; — they thought themselves lucky if they came 
into harbour a month after their private stores had run 
out, and carrying a budget of news as stale as the ship's 
provisions. 1 

Whatever else got across the Atlantic under such con- 
ditions, fresh and accurate knowledge of what people on 
the opposite coast thought, and how they lived, most 
assuredly did not. War is a great teacher of geography. 
The ideas about men, laws, and localities in the United 
States, which were current here until Lee's Virginian 
campaigns and Sherman's March to Savannah, the Proc- 
lamation of Freedom, and the re-election of Lincoln, 
came successively to enlighten us, were vague and dis- 
torted even in an era of ocean steamers ; but those 
ideas were tame and true as compared to the images 
which floated across the mental vision of our grand- 
father's grandfather whenever he took the trouble to 
think about the colonies. The hallucinations of the 
British mind, practical even in its fantasies, assumed 
the shape of fabulous statistics which went to show that 
America, unless her commercial ambition was kept tight 
in hand, would overset the intentions of Providence by 
ceasing to supply her wants exclusively from Britain. 
"The great defect here," Franklin wrote from London, 
" is in all sorts of people a want of attention to what 
passes in such remote countries as America ; an unwill- 
ingness to read anything about them if it appears a little 
lengthy ; and a disposition to postpone the consideration 
even of the things they know they must at last consider, 
so that they may have time for what more immediately 
concerns them, and withal enjoy their amusements, and 
be undisturbed in the universal dissipation." 2 They 

1 \mong accounts of such voyages, none are more life-like than those 
which may be found in Davis's Travels in America, published in 1803; 
an exquisitely absurd book, which the world, to the diminution of its gaiety, 
has forgotten. 

2 Letter to Samuel Cooper ; London, July 7, 1773. 


read as little as they could help ; and, when they did 
read, they were informed by the debates in Parliament 
that the farmers and backwoodsmen of the West, if 
they were permitted to manufacture in iron, in cotton, 
and in wool, and to export the, produce of their labour 
all the world over, would speedily kill the industries of 
Leeds and Manchester and Sheffield. And they learned 
from the newspapers, for whom Niagara and the 
Rapids did not exist, that the interests of Newfoundland 
were threatened by a scheme for the establishment of 
a cod and whale fishery in Lake Erie and Lake On- 
tario. That was the sort of stuff, said Franklin, which 
was produced for the amusement of coffee-house students 
in politics, and was the material for " all future Livys, 
Rapins, Robertsons, Humes, and Macaulays who may 
be inclined to furnish the world with that rara avis, a 
true history." 2 

Over and above the misconceptions prevailing in 
other quarters, Ministers of State were under a disad- 
vantage peculiar to themselves. While other English- 
men were ignorant, they were habitually misinformed. 
In recent years the nation has more than once learned 
by bitter experience the evils which arise from bad 
advice sent home by administrators on the spot, whether 
they be dull people who cannot interpret what is pass- 
ing around them, or clever people with a high-flying 
policy of their own. But the Colonial Governors and 
High Commissioners of our own times have been men 
of good, and sometimes of lofty, character; whereas 
the personages upon whose reports Lord Hillsborough 
and Lord Dartmouth had to depend for forming their 
notions of the American population, and in accordance 
with whose suggestions the course taken at an emer- 

1 Letter of May 1765 to the editor of a newspaper, under the sig- 
nature of " A Traveller. " Mrs. Catharine Macaulay, author of The His- 
tory of England from the Accession of James the First to that of the 
Brunswick Line, was then much in vogue among the Whigs. They were 
rather at a loss for an historian of their own, to set against the Jacobitism 
of David Hume. 


gency by the British Cabinet was necessarily shaped, 
were in many cases utterly unworthy of their trust 
Among them were needy politicians, and broken-down 
stockjobbers, who in better days had done a good turn 
to a Minister, and for whom a post had to be found at 
times when the English public departments were too 
full, or England itself was too hot, to hold them. There 
remained the resource of shipping them across the Atlan- 
tic to chaffer for an increase of salary with the Assembly 
of their colony, and to pester their friends at home with 
claims tor a pension which would enable them to revisit 
London without fear of the Marshalsea. They took 
small account socially of the plain and shrewd people 
amongst whom their temporary lot was thrown; and 
they were the last to understand the nature and motives 
of that moral repugnance with which their supercilious- 
ness was repaid. 

On the Secretary of State's list there were better men 
than these, who unfortunately were even worse gov- 
ernors. It so happened that in critical places, and at 
moments which were turning-points of history, the high- 
est post in the colony was more often than not occupied 
by some man of energy and industry, who in personal 
conduct was respectable according to the standard then 
ruling in the most easy branch of a public service no- 
where given to austerity. But they were not of an 
intellectual capacity equal to a situation which would 
have tried the qualities of a Turgot. They moved in an 
atmosphere such that perverted public spirit was more 
dangerous than no public spirit at all. A great man 
would have sympathised with the aspirations of the 
colonists ; a lazy man would have laughed at and dis- 
regarded them ; but, (by a tendency irresistible in times 
of unrest and popular discontent,) a narrow and plod- 
ding man is the predestined enemy of those whom it is 
his vocation to govern. Exactly in proportion as peo- 
ple are keen to detect their rights, and formidable to 
insist on having them, a governor of this type is cer- 
tain to distrust their aims, to disapprove their methods, 


and bitterly to dislike their turn of character. In his 
eyes, the rough and ready incidents that accompany the 
spread of political excitement in a young community are 
so many acts of treason against his office, which he is 
always apt to magnify. His self-respect is wounded ; his 
sense of official tradition is honestly shocked ; and, while 
the people are intent upon what they regard as a public 
controversy, he is sure to treat the whole matter as a 
personal conflict between himself and them. 

Such a man, in such a state of mind and temper, 
makes it his duty, and finds it his consolation, to pour 
out his griefs and resentments in the correspondence 
which he carries on with his official superiors. It is the 
bare truth that his own Governors and Lieutenant-Gov- 
ernors wrote King George out of America. The stages 
of the process are minutely recorded by an analytic 
philosopher who enjoyed every facility for conducting 
his observations. " Their office," wrote Franklin, 
"makes them insolent; their insolence makes them 
odious ; and, being conscious that they are hated, they 
become malicious. Their malice urges them to contin- 
ual abuse of the inhabitants in their letters to Adminis- 
tration, representing them as disaffected and rebellious, 
and, (to encourage the use of severity,) as weak, divided, 
timid, and cowardly. Government believes all; thinks 
it necessary to support and countenance its officers. 
Their quarrelling with the people is deemed a mark 
and consequence of their fidelity. They are therefore 
more highly rewarded, and this makes their conduct 
still more insolent and provoking." 

It was a picture painted from life, in strong but 
faithful colours. The letters of Bernard, the Governor 
of Massachusetts, contained the germ of all the culpable 
and foolish proceedings which, at the long last, alienated 
America. As far back as the year 1764 he wrote a 
memorandum in which he urged the Cabinet to quash 
the Charters of the colonies. Throughout the agitation 
against the Stamp-duty he studiously exaggerated the 
turbulence of the popular party, and underrated their 


courage and sincerity. " The people here," he wrote 
in January 1766, " talk very high of their power to resist 
Great Britain ; but it is all talk. New York and Boston 
would both be defenceless to a royal fleet. I hope 
that New York will have the honour of being sub- 
dued first." When, to his chagrin, the obnoxious tax 
was abolished, Bernard set himself persistently to the 
work of again troubling the quieted waters. He pro- 
posed, in cold blood, during the interval between the 
repeal of the Stamp Act and the imposition of the Tea- 
duty, that Massachusetts should be deprived of her As- 
sembly. When the new quarrel arose, he lost no chance 
of stimulating the fears of the Court, and flattering its 
prejudices. He sent over lists of Royalists who might 
be nominated to sit as councillors in the place of the 
ejected representatives, and lists of Patriots who should 
be deported to England, and there tried for their lives. 
He called on the Bedfords for troops as often and as 
importunately as ever the Bedfords themselves had 
called for trumps when a great stake was on the card- 
table. He advised that the judges, and the civil ser- 
vants, of Massachusetts should be paid by the Crown 
with money levied from the colony. He pleaded in 
secret that the obnoxious taxes should never, and on no 
account, be repealed or mitigated ; while in a public 
despatch he recommended that a petition from the As- 
sembly, praying for relief from these very taxes, should 
be favourably considered. For this plot against the 
liberties of America was carried on out of the view of 
her people. Amidst the surprise and dismay inspired 
by each successive stroke of severity with which they 
were visited, the colonists did not recognise, and in some 
cases did not even suspect, the hand of their own paid 
servants, who were for ever professing to mediate be- 
tween them and their angry sovereign. Since Machia- 
velli undertook to teach the Medici how principalities 
might be governed and maintained, no such body of lit- 
erature was put on paper as that in which Sir Francis 
Bernard, (for his services procured him a baronetcy,) 

VOL. 1. c 


instructed George the Third and his Ministers in the art 
of throwing away a choice portion of a mighty Empire. 

But in order to comprehend a policy which lay so 
far outside the known and ordinary limits of human 
infatuation, it must never be forgotten that there was a 
deeper and a more impassable gulf than the Atlantic 
between the colonists and their rulers. If Cabinet 
Ministers at home had known the Americans better, 
they would only have loved them less. The higher up 
in the peerage an Englishman stood, and the nearer to 
influence and power, the more unlikely it was that he 
would be in sympathy with his brethren across the seas, 
or that he would be capable of respecting their suscepti- 
bilities, and of apprehending their virtues, which were 
less to his taste even than their imperfections. It is 
unnecessary to recapitulate any portion of the copious 
mass of evidence, drawn from their own mouths, and 
those of their boon companions and confederates, by 
aid of which a description, — and the accuracy of it no 
one has thought fit to impugn, — has been given of the 
personal habits and the public morality prevalent among 
those statesmen whom the majority in Parliament sup- 
ported, and in whom the King reposed his confidence. 1 
How they drank and gamed ; what scandalous modes 
of life they led themselves, and joyously condoned in 
others ; what they spent and owed, and whence they 
drew the vast sums of money by which they fed their 
profusion, may be found in a hundred histories and 
memoirs, dramas, novels, and satires. But the story is 
nowhere recorded in such downright language, and with 
so over-brimming an abundance of detail, as in the easy 
mutual confidences of the principal actors ; if, indeed, 
that can be called a confidence which the person con- 
cerned would have told with equal freedom and self- 
complacency to any man, — and, it must be confessed, 
to many women, — as long as the hearers were of his 
own rank, and belonged to his own party. 

1 Chapter iii. of the Early History of Charles James Fox, 

3<v / * 


These folk were the product of their age, which, in 
its worst aspect, resembled nothing that England has 
known before or since. The stern heroes who waged 
the great civic contest of the seventeenth century, and 
who drew their strength from the highest of all sources, 
had been succeeded by a race who in private very gen- 
erally lived for enjoyment, and in Parliament fought for 
their own hand. The fibre of our public men had long 
been growing dangerously lax ; and at length temptation 
came in irresistible force. The sudden wealth, which 
poured into England after Chatham had secured her 
predominance in both hemispheres, brought in its train 
a flood of extravagance and corruption, and occasioned 
grave misgivings to those who were proud of her good 
name, and who understood her real interests. There 
was now, however, in store for our country a severe and 
searching lesson, the direct consequence of her faults, 
and proportioned to their magnitude, but by which as a 
nation she was capable of profiting. She escaped the 
fate of other world-wide empires by the noble spirit in 
which she accepted the teaching of disaster. From the 
later years of the American war onwards there set in a 
steady and genuine reformation in personal and political 
morals which carried her safe, strong, and pure through 
the supreme ordeal of the wrestle with Napoleon. 

But nothing is more certain than that there was a 
period when Englishmen who had studied the past, and 
who watched the present, recognised a very close par- 
allel between their own country and the capital of the 
ancient world at the time when the Provinces lay help- 
less and defenceless at the disposal of the Imperial 
Government. They read their Gibbon with uneasy pre- 
sentiments, and were not disposed to quarrel with sat- 
irists who found in London and Bath much the same 
material as Rome and Baiae had afforded to Juvenal. 
Smollett, though by preference he drew from ugly models, 
depicted things as he saw them, and not as he imagined 
them. Those scenes of coarseness and debauchery, of 
place-hunting and bribery, of mean tyranny and vulgar 



favouritism, which make his town-stories little short oi 
nauseous, and give to his sea-stories their unpleasing 
but unquestionable power, were only the seamy side of 
that tapestry on which more fashionable artists recorded 
the sparkling follies and splendid jobbery of their era. 
Great in describing the symptoms, Smollett had detected 
the root of the disease, as is shown in his description of 
the throng of visitors who came to drink the Bath waters. 
"All these absurdities," he wrote, "arise from the gen- 
eral tide of luxury, which hath overpowered the nation, 
and swept away all, even the dregs of the people. Clerks 
and factors from the East Indies, loaded with the spoils 
of plundered provinces ; planters, negro-drivers, and 
hucksters from our American plantations, enriched they 
know not how ; agents, commissaries, and contractors, 
who have fattened in two successive wars on the blood 
of the nation ; usurers, brokers, and jobbers of every 
kind; men of low birth and no breeding, have found them- 
selves suddenly translated to a state of affluence un- 
known to former ages." : 

Other writers, who were not professional cynics, and 
who observed mankind with no inclination to make the 
worst of what they saw, were all in the same story. 
Home Tooke pronounced that English manners had not 
changed by degrees, but of a sudden ; and he attributed 
it chiefly to our connection with India that luxury and 
corruption had flowed in, " not as in Greece, like a gentle 
rivulet, but after the manner of a torrent." 2 On such 
a point no more unimpeachable witnesses can be found 
than those American Tories who sacrificed their homes, 
their careers, and their properties for love of England, 
and for the duty which they thought that they owed her. 
These honest men were shocked and pained to find that 
in passing from the colonies to the mother-country they 
had exchanged an atmosphere of hardihood, simplicity, 
and sobriety for what seemed to them a perpetual cy- 
clone of prodigality and vice. Their earlier letters, 

1 Hu77iphrey Clinker ; the letter from Bath of April 23. 

2 Memoirs of John Home Tooke, vol. ii., p. 488. 


before they had grown accustomed to a state of manners 
which they never could bring themselves to approve, 
breathe in every paragraph disappointment and disillu- 
sion. 1 The blemishes on the fair fame of England, 
which these unhappy children of her adoption discovered 
late in life, were familiar to her native sons from the 
time when they first began to take account of what was 
going on around them. Churchill's denunciations of 
the rake, the gamester, and the duellist in high places 
of trust and power read to us now like the conventional 
invective of satire; but in his own generation they were 
true to the life and the letter. And Cowper, whose 
most halting verse had a dignity and sincerity which 
must ever be wanting to Churchill's bouncing couplets, 
made it a complaint against his country 

"That she is rigid in denouncing death 
On petty robbers, and indulges life 

And liberty, and oft-times honour too, 

To peculators of the public ^old : 

That thieves at home must hang, hut he that puts 

Into his overgorged and Moated purse 

The wealth 01 Indian provinces, escapes." 8 

By whatever channels money flowed into the country, 
it was in the nature of things that those who were the 
strongest should get the most. The people of birth 
and fashion, who as a class were always in power, had 
no mind to be outbid and outshone by any nabob, or 
army contractor, or West Indian planter who was push- 

1 Samuel Curwen, for instance, who left Salem in Massachusetts for Lon- 
don in May 1775, writes in July of the same year : "The dissipation, self- 
forget fulness, and vicious indulgences of every kind which characterise this 
metropolis are not to he wondered at. The unbounded riches of many 
afford the means of every species of luxury, which, (thank God,) our part 
of America is ignorant of." And again in the following August : "You 
will not wonder at the luxury, dissipation, and profligacy of manners said 
to reign in this capital, when you consider that the temptations to indul- 
gence, from the lowest haunts to the most elegant and expensive rendez- 
vous of the noble and polished world, are almost beyond the power of 
number to reckon up." 

2 Book I. of The Task. 


ing himself to the front in Parliament and in society. In 
order to hold their own against the new men in wealth, 
and in all that wealth brings, they had one resource, 
and one only. The opinion of their set forbade them 
to engage in trade ; and, apart from any question of 
sentiment, their self-indulgent habits unfitted them for 
the demands of a genuine business life, which were 
more severe then than now. The spurious business 
which a gentleman may do in his off hours with no 
commercial training, no capital, and no risk except to 
honour, was unknown in those primitive days. In the 
eighteenth century the City did not care to beg or to 
buy any man's name, unless he gave with it the whole 
of his time and the whole of his credit. But a great 
peer had small cause to regret that the gates of com- 
merce were barred to him and his, as long as he could 
help himself out of the taxes, and help himself royally ; 
for, in that paradise of privilege, what an individual 
received from the public was in proportion to the means 
which he possessed already. Horace Walpole, who 
lived very long and very well on sinecures which were 
waiting for him when he came of age, said that there 
was no living in England under twenty thousand a year. 
" Not that that suffices ; but it enables one to ask for a 
pension for two or three lives." 

A nobleman with a large supply of influence to sell, 
who watched the turn of the market, and struck in at 
the right moment, might make the fortune of his family 
in the course of a single week. " To-morrow," Rigby 
wrote to the Duke of Bedford in September 1766, 
" Lord Hertford kisses hands for Master of the Horse. 
Lord Beauchamp is made Constable of Dublin Castle 
for life in the room of an old Mr. Hatton. Lord Hert- 
ford gives Mr. Hatton a thousand pounds to quit his 
employment, which was five hundred a year. A thou- 
sand more is added, and Lord Beauchamp has got it 
for his life. There is another job done for another son 
in a Custom-house place, which will be a thousand a 
year more. In short, what with sons and daughters, 



and boroughs, and employments of all kinds, I never 
heard of such a trading voyage as his Lordship's has 
proved." Rigby himself, — whose stock-in-trade was an 
effrontery superior to the terrors of debate, a head of 
proof in a drinking bout, and an undeniable popularity 
with all circles whose good-will was no compliment, — 
was Master of the Rolls in Ireland, or rather out of Ire- 
land, for life. In addition, he enjoyed for the space of 
fourteen years the vast and more than questionable 
emoluments of a Paymaster of the Forces who was 
without a conscience, and with a good friend at the 
Treasury. A balance of eleven hundred thousand 
pounds of public money stood in his name at the bank, 
the interest on which went to him, or rather to his 
creditors ; for he lived and died insolvent. To this day 
the nation has against him a bad debt of a large 
amount, — in the sense, that is, in which a traveller 
whose purse has been taken has a bad debt against a 

The increasing luxury, and the rise in the standard of 
living, which drove great men into these raids on the 
Exchequer, at the same time provided the means of 
gratifying, if not of satisfying, their rapacity. New 
offices were created out of the superfluities of the 
revenue ; and, as each year went round, those which 
already existed became better worth having. The 
receipts of the Customs and the Excise together under 
Lord North were double what they had been under Sir 
Robert Walpole. The profits of patent places, received 
in the shape of fees or percentages, mounted steadily 
upwards as the business which passed through the 
hands of the holder, or of his humble and poorly paid 
subordinates, grew in importance and in volume. The 
Usher of the Exchequer saw his gains, in the course of 
one generation, grow from nine hundred to eighteen 
hundred, and from eighteen hundred to four thousand 
two hundred pounds a year. The spread of commerce, 
the rush of enterprise, brought causes into the Courts, 
and private Bills on to the table of Parliament, in 


numbers such that many a post, which twenty years 
before had been regarded as a moderate competence for 
life, now enabled its occupier to entertain the ambition 
of founding a family out of the tribute which he levied 
from litigants and promoters. 1 

The domestic history of the epoch clearly shows that 
every noble, and even gentle, household in the kingdom 
claimed as the birthright of its members that they should 
live by salary. The eldest son succeeded to the estate ; 
the most valuable part of which, more productive than 
a coal-mine or a slate-quarry, was some dirty village 
which returned a member for each half-score of its 
twenty cottages. The second son was in the Guards. 
The third took a family living, and looked forward to 
holding at least a Canonry as well. The fourth entered 
the Royal Navy ; and those that came after, (for fathers 
of all ranks did their duty by the State, whose need of 
men was then at the greatest,) joined a marching regi- 
ment as soon as they were strong enough to carry the 
colours. And as soldiers and sailors, whatever might 
be the case in other departments, our ancestors gave 
full value for their wages. From the day when Rodney 
broke the line off Dominica, back to the day when de 
Grammont did not break the line at Dettingen, a com- 
mission in the British army or navy was no sinecure. 
Our aristocracy took the lion's share ; but they played 
the lion's part. The sons and grandsons of the nouses 
of Manners and Keppel did not do their work in the 
trenches and on the quarter-deck by proxy. Killed in 
Germany, killed in America, killed in the Carnatic with 
Lawrence, killed on the high seas in an action of frigates, 

1 The case was well put by Dr. Watson, afterwards Bishop of Llandaff, 
in a letter to the Duke of Manchester in the year 1780. Writing, (for so 
staunch a Whig,) with great moderation, Watson said : "The influence of 
the Crown, — which has acquired its present strength more, perhaps, from 
the additional increase of empire, commerce, and national wealth, than 
from any criminal desire to subvert the Constitution, — has pervaded, I 
fear, the whole mass of the people. Every man of consequence almost in 
the kingdom has a son, relation, friend, or dependant, whom he wishes to 
provide for ; and, unfortunately for the liberty of this country, the Crown 
has the means of gratifying the expectation of them all." 


drowned in a transport, died of wounds on his way 
home from the West Indies, — such entries, coming 
thick and fast over a period of forty years, during which 
we were fighting for five and twenty, make the baldest 
record of our great families a true roll of honour. 

Whether they lived on their country or died for her, 
the members of our ruling class were an aristocracy, 
State-paid, as far as they earned money at all ; seldom 
entering the open professions ; and still further removed 
from the homely and laborious occupations on which 
the existence of society is founded. But they governed 
the Empire, and, among other parts of the Empire, 
those great provinces in North America which were 
inhabited by a race of men with whom, except their 
blood and language, they had little in common. Burke, 
who told the House of Commons that he had taken for 
some years a good deal of pains to inform himself on 
the matter, put the white population in the colonies at 
not less than two millions, which was something between 
a fourth and a fifth of the population of Great Britain. 
The outposts of that army of pioneers were doing battle 
with the wilderness along an ever-advancing frontier 
of eighteen hundred miles from end to end. In the 
Southern States, where life was cruelly rough for the 
poorer settlers, and where the more wealthy landowners 
depended on the labour of negroes, society was already 
constituted after a fashion which differed from anything 
that was to be seen in New England, or in Old England 
either. But the great majority of the colonists were 
gathered together, though not very near together, in 
settled districts, with a civilisation and a type of char- 
acter of their own such as the world had never before 

The French nobles, who brought their swords and 
fortunes to the assistance of the Revolution in America, 
opened their eyes on the morning after their arrival 
upon a state of things which closely resembled the 
romantic ideal then fashionable in Parisian circles. But 


for a certain toughness and roughness, of undoubted 
English origin, which the young fellows began to notice 
more when they had learned to speak English better, 
the community in which they found themselves seemed, 
in their lively and hopeful eyes, to have been made to 
order out of the imagination of Rousseau or of Fenelon. 
They were equally delighted with the external aspect, 
and the interior meaning, of the things around them. 
The Comte de Segur, in all his long and chequered 
existence, met with nothing which so pleased him as 
what he espied along the high roads of Delaware, New 
Jersey, and Pennsylvania. " Sometimes," he wrote, " in 
the midst of vast forests, with majestic trees which the 
axe had never touched, I was transported in idea to the 
remote times when the first navigators set their feet on 
that unknown hemisphere. Sometimes I was admiring 
a lovely valley, carefully tilled, with the meadows full of 
cattle ; the houses clean, elegant, painted in bright and 
varied colours, and standing in little gardens behind 
pretty fences. And then, further on, after other masses 
of woods, I came to populous hamlets, and towns where 
everything betokened the perfection of civilisation, — 
schools, churches, universities. Indigence and vulgarity 
nowhere ; abundance, comfort, and urbanity everywhere. 
The inhabitants, each and all, exhibited the unassuming 
and quiet pride of men who have no master, who see 
nothing above them except the law, and who are free 
from the vanity, the servility, and the prejudices of our 
European societies. That is the picture which, through- 
out my whole journey, never ceased to interest and 
surprise me." 

De Segur and his comrades in arms were young and 
enthusiastic when they first visited America ; but they 
recorded, or re-published, their impressions of it after an 
experience of men and cities such as falls to the lot of 
few. Lafayette, whatever might be the misfortunes of 
his middle life, had sooner or later seen a great deal 
of the world under the pleasant guise which it presents 
to the hero of a perpetual ovation. Mathieu Dumas, — 


who, before he was Lieutenant-General of the armies of 
Kin- Louis the Eighteenth, served Napoleon long and 
faithfully, had marched, and fought, and administered 
all Europe over in the train of the most ubiquitous of 
Conquerors. And yet, after so much had been tried and 
tasted, the remote and ever-receding picture of their 
earliest campaign stood out as their favourite page in 
the hook of memory. They liked the country, and they 
never ceased to love the people. They could not forget 
how, in " one of those towns which were soon to be cities, 

or villages which already were little towns." they would 

alight from horseback in a street blight with Mowers 
and foliage. They would lift the knocker of shining 
brass, and behind the door, gay with paint which never 
was allowed to lose its gloss, they were sure to meet 

with a hospitality that knew no respect ot" persons. 
"Simplicity <>i manners/' said Lafayette, "the desire to 
oblige, and a mild and quiet equality are the rule every- 
where. The inns are very different from those of Europe. 
The master and mistress sit down with you, and do the 
honours of an excellent dinner; and, when you depart, 
there is no bargaining over the bill. If you are not in 
the mind to go to a tavern, you can soon find a country- 
house where it is enough to be a good American in order 
to be entertained as in Europe we entertain a friend." 

Mathieu Dumas detected a visible difference between 
English and American manners. " In spite," he said, 
"of the resemblance in language, in costume, in customs, 
in religion, and in the principles of government, a dis- 
tinct national character is forming itself. The colonists 
are milder and more tolerant, more hospitable, and in 
general more communicative than the English. The 
English, in their turn, reproach them with levity and too 
keen a taste for pleasure." But the contrast was not 
with England alone among European nations; and the 
cause lay deep in the favourable conditions of life 
which prevailed in the New World, and were wanting 
to the Old. "An observer," wrote de Segur, "fresh 
from our magnificent cities, and the airs of our young 


men of fashion, — who has compared the luxury of out 
upper classes with the coarse dress of our peasants, and 
the rags of our innumerable poor, — is surprised, on 
reaching the United States, by the entire absence of the 
extremes both of opulence and misery. All Americans 
whom we met wore clothes of good material. Their 
free, frank, and familiar address, equally removed from 
uncouth discourtesy and from artificial politeness, be- 
tokened men who were proud of their own rights and 
respected those of others." 

That national character, which the young French 
colonels admired, was home-grown ; but it bore trans- 
portation well. The American qualities of that plain 
and strong generation did not require American sur- 
roundings to set them off to advantage. John Adams 
began life as a rural schoolmaster, and continued it as 
a rural lawyer. He never saw anything which Lord 
Chesterfield or Madame du Deffand would have recog- 
nised as society until he dined with Turgot to meet a 
member of the family of de Rochefoucauld. He learned 
French as he went along, and at the bottom of his heart 
had no great love or respect for Frenchmen. But, soon 
after he began his sojourn in France, he became at home 
in the diplomatic world ; and before long he had acquired 
there a commanding influence, which proved to be of 
inestimable value to his country. Franklin in London 
had no official position above that of agent for a co- 
lonial Assembly, and no previous knowledge of Eng- 
lish society except what he had picked up as a youth, 
working for a printer, and lodging in Little Britain at 
three and sixpence a week. And yet he was welcomed 
by all, of every rank, whom he cared to meet ; and by 
some great people with whose attentions, and with a 
good deal of whose wine, he would have willingly dis- 
pensed. 1 When he took up his abode in Paris, he con- 

1 " We have lost Lord Clare from the Board of Trade," Franklin wrote 
in July 1 768. " He took me home from Court the Sunday before his 
removal, that I might dine with him, as he said, alone, and talk over 
American affairs. He gave me a great deal of flummery ; saying that 



tinned to live as he had lived in Philadelphia till the age 
n! seventy, — talking his usual talk, and dressed in sober 
broadcloth. Hut even so he became the rage, and set 
the fashion, in circles which gave undisputed law to the 
whole of polite Europe in matters where taste and be- 
haviour were concerned. 

The fact is that intelligent travellers from the coun- 
tries of continental Europe found in America exactly 
what they had been searching after eagerly, and with 
some sense of disappointment, in England. Anglo- 
mania was then at its height in Parisian society; and 
the noblest form of that passion led men to look for, 
and imitate, the mode of life which must surely, (so 
they hoped and argued,) be the product of such laws 
and such freedom as ours. ()t simplicity and frugality, 
of manliness and independence of religious conviction 
and sense ol duty, there was abundance in our island, 
if they had known where to seek it. In every commer- 
cial town from Aberdeen to Falmouth, and on many a 
countryside, the day's work was being done by men of 
the right stamp, with something of old manners, but of 
solid modern knowledge; close attendants at church, or, 
in more cases still, at chapel ; writing without effort and 
pretension a singularly clear and vigorous English, and 
making the nione\ which they spent, and a good deal 
more, by their own labour and their own enterprise. 
From them came Howard and Raikes, Arkwright and 
Wedgwood, Watt and Brindley. For them Wesley and 
John Newton preached, and Adam Smith and Arthur 
Young wrote. Intent on their business, they yet had 
time to spare for schemes of benevolence and general 
utility ; and they watched the conduct of State affairs 
with deep and growing interest, and with indignation 
which was mostly silent. For their opportunity was 

though at my Examination I answered some of his questions a little pertly, 
yet he liked me for the spirit 1 showed In defence of my country. At part- 
ing, after we had drunk a bottle and a half of elaret each, he hugged and 
ki^srd me, protesting that he had never in his life met with a man he was 
so much in love with." 


not yet ; and they were creating and maturing quietly, 
and as it were unconsciously, that public opinion of their 
class which grew in strength during the coming fifty 
years, and then for another fifty years was destined to 
rule the country. They were the salt of the earth in 
those days of corruption ; but they were not the people 
whom a gentleman from Versailles, visiting London with 
letters of introduction from the Due de Choiseul or the 
Chevalier de Boufrlers, would be very likely to meet. 
They lived apart from high society, and did not copy its 
habits or try to catch its tone ; nor did they profess the 
theory of an equality which, as their strong sense told 
them, they could not successfully assert in practice. 
Preserving their self-respect, and keeping within their 
own borders, they recognised that the best of the world, 
whether they liked it or not, was made for others. How- 
ever little they might care to put the confession into 
words, they acted, and wrote, and spoke as men aware 
that the government of their nation was in the hands of 
an aristocracy to which they themselves did not belong. 
It was far otherwise in America. The people in the 
settled districts had emerged from a condition of cruel 
hardship to comfort, security, and as much leisure as 
their temperament, already the same as now, would per- 
mit them to take. Their predecessors had fought and 
won their battle against hunger and cold and pestilence, 
against savage beasts and savage men. As time went 
on, they had confronted and baffled a subtler and more 
deadly adversary in the power of the later Stuarts ; for, 
as soon as the exiles had conquered from the wilderness 
a country which was worth possessing, the statesmen of 
the Restoration unsuccessfully tried to destroy their lib- 
erties, to appropriate their substance, and to impose on 
them the form of Church government to escape which 
they had crossed the ocean. Those varied and pro- 
tracted struggles had left a mark in the virile and reso- 
lute temper of the existing generation, in their readiness 
to turn a hand to any sort of work on however sudden 
an emergency, and in their plain and unpretentious 


habits. But there was nothing uncivilised or unlettered 

about them. In their most bitter straits, while the exist- 
ence of the community was still at hazard, the founders 
of the colony had taken measures for securing those 
supreme benefits to the individual which in their eyes 
were the true end and object of all combined human 
effort. By the time they had reaped their fifth harvest 
on the shores of the Massachusetts Bay, they had estab- 
lished a public school at Cambridge; and the next year 
it was raised to the dignity of a college, with a library 
and something of an endowment. Again a twelve- 
month, and the lust sheet was drawn from beneath a 
New England printing-press ; and eight years later on, 
in 1647, it was ordered that every township, "after the 
Lord hath increased them to the number of fifty house- 
holders, shall appoint one within their towns to teach 
all such children as shall resort to him to write and 
read ; and, where any town shall increase to the number 
of one hundred families, they shall set up a grammar 
school, the masters thereof being able to instruct youth 
so far as tiny may be fitted for the university." 

Not otherwise did the Scottish statesmen of 1 696 
read their duty, with great results to the future of their 
people, ancient and immovable as were the limits by 
which that future was circumscribed and confined. But 
the lawgivers of the Puritan colonies had a blank parch- 
ment before them ; and they were equal to the task of 
ruling the lines along which the national character was 
to run. The full fruit of their work was seen four gen- 
erations afterwards in the noble equality of universal 
industry, and of mutual respect, which prevailed among 
a population of whom none were idle and none were 
ignorant. "There," wrote de Segur, "no useful pro- 
fession is the subject of ridicule or contempt. Idleness 
alone is a disgrace. Military rank and public employ- 
ment do not prevent a person from having a calling of 
his own. Every one there is a tradesman, a farmer, or 
an artisan. Those who are less well off, — the servants, 
labourers, and sailors, — unlike men of the lower classes 


in Europe, are treated with a consideration which they 
merit by the propriety of their conduct and their be- 
haviour. At first I was surprised, on entering a tavern, 
to find it kept by a captain, a major, or a colonel, who 
was equally ready to talk, and to talk well, about his 
campaigns, his farming operations, or the market he 
had got for his produce or his wares. And I was still 
more taken aback when, — after I had answered the 
questions put to me about my family, and had informed 
the company that my father was a General and a Min- 
ister of State, — they went on to inquire what was his 
profession or his business." 

There could be no personal sympathy, and no identity 
of public views, between the governors in Downing 
Street and the governed in Pennsylvania and New 
England. On the one hand was a commonwealth con- 
taining no class to which a man was bound to look up, 
and none on which he was tempted to look down ; 
where there was no source of dignity except labour, and 
no luxury but a plenty which was shared by all. On 
the other hand was a ruling caste, each member of 
which, unless by some rare good fortune, was taught 
by precept and example, from his schooldays onwards, 
that the greatest good was to live for show and pleas- 
ure ; that the whole duty of senatorial man was to draw 
as much salary as could be got, in return for as little 
work as might be given for it ; and that, socially and 
politically, the many were not to be reckoned as stand- 
ing on a level with the few. 

The great English public schools, to which the aris- 
tocracy then resorted, were described by Cowper in a 
poem of striking power, which is far too earnest, and too 
scrupulously truthful, to be classed as a satire. 1 At 
Eton, especially, the stern and often cruel education of 
the seventeenth century was obsolete, and had been 
succeeded by a laxity of manners which was due, in large 
measure, to the ill-considered action of Lord Holland. 

1 Cowper's Tirocinium, or a Review of Schools, was published in 1784. 
He had been educated at Westminster, and he left school in 1749. 



Charles Fox had been withdrawn from his studies to ac- 
company his father on a long Continental tour, in the 
course of which he was plunged prematurely into the 
temptations of the great and idle world. He went back 
to Eton with unlimited money, and the taste and habit 
of dissipation. Nature had endowed the boy with qual- 
ities which dazzled and bewitched his comrades, and 
excused him in the eyes of his superiors; and his influ- 
ence in the school was unbounded. Lord Shelburne 
gave it as his opinion that the great change for the 
worse, which had taken place among the youth of the 
upper classes, dated from the time that the Foxes were 
predominant at Kton. It was the exaggerated state- 
ment of one who was no friend to the family ; for it 
left out of sight the consideration that, bad as Lord 
Holland's conduct was, others than he were responsible 
for the morality of the school. Charles Fox would have 
followed a better path if it had been pointed out by 
instructors whom he loved and reverenced ; and, at the 
very worst, a few private interviews with a strong-willed 
and stout-armed headmaster should have convinced the 
most precocious scapegrace that Kton was not Spa or 
Paris. But discipline, in any true sense of the word, 
in the middle of that century did not exist at Eton. 1 
Clever boys there wrote Latin, as it was written no- 
where else. That, to the end of his days, was the per- 
suasion of Charles Fox ; and his own productions go to 
prove it; for his schoolboy exercises were often marked 
by a rare facility of handling, and a lively and most 
fascinating sense of personal enjoyment on the part of 
the writer. Nor did Latin verse comprise all that was 
to be learned at Eton. The authorities gave careful 
lessons in the art of elocution to lads many of whom 
inherited, as part of their patrimony, the right of sitting 
for a borough, or the obligation of standing for a county. 
But there the duty of a teacher towards his pupils, as 

1 Some extracts relating to the Kton of those days, taken from the 
Twelfth Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, are given in 
the First Appendix to this volume. 

VOL. I. D 


he himself read it, ended. The boys feared the masters 
less than the masters feared the boys, and with good 
cause ; for the doctrine of non-resistance was not popu- 
lar among these Whigs of sixteen, and an Eton rebellion 
was a very serious matter indeed. 1 

The senators of the future, when they left school for 
college, found themselves in a place where boundless 
indulgence was shown towards the frailties of the power- 
ful and the high born. The Duke of Grafton, in 1768, 
was in the very depths of a scandal of which Junius took 
care that all the world should be cognisant ; and in the 
course of that very year his Grace was unanimously 
chosen by the Cambridge senate as Chancellor of the 
University. The Earl of Sandwich ran a dead heat for 
the High Stewardship of the same educational body ; 
and Cambridge owed its salvation from the ineffaceable 
disgrace which would have attended his success to the 
votes of the country clergy, among whom his opponent 
Lord Hardwicke, a nobleman of blameless character, 
most fortunately had, as we are told, " much connec- 
tion." 2 Gibbon, in three out of his six autobiographies, 
has related how the fourteen months which he spent at 
Oxford were totally lost for every purpose of study and 
improvement, at a college where "the dull and deep po- 
tations of the fellows excused the brisk intemperance of 
youth, and the velvet cap of a Gentleman Commoner 
was the cap of liberty " ; and his account of Magdalen 
is illustrated by the experience of Lord Malmesbury, 
who states in less finished phrases that the life among 
his own set at Merton was a close imitation of high life 
in London. After having undergone such a prelimi- 
nary training at the famous centres of national education, 

1 A picturesque account of a school riot, which occurred there just after 
the close of the American war, is given in the Fourteenth Report, Appen- 
dix, Part I, of the Historical Manuscripts Commission. 

2 Sandwich likewise, in the course of time, established a connection with 
the clergy of a sort peculiar to himself. The Rev. Mr. Hackman, who 
wanted to marry one of his mistresses, was hanged for murdering her; and 
the Rev. Dr. Dodd, who was hanged for forgery, according to Walpole 
had married another. 


a young man of fortune was started on the grand tour, 
to be initiated in the free masonry of luxury and levity 
which then embraced the whole fashionable society of 
Europe. If he was his own master he travelled alone, 
or with a band of congenial companions. If his father 
was alive, he made his voyage under the ostensible su- 
perintendence of a tutor, whom he had either subjugated 
or quarrelled with by the time the pair had traversed 
one or two foreign capitals. A youth so spent was a 
bad apprenticeship for the vocation of governing with 
insight and sympathy remote colonies inhabited by a 
hardy, an industrious, and a religious people. 




That the pictures drawn in these pages are not over- 
coloured will be admitted by those who compare the 
correspondence of George the Third and Lord North 
with Washington's confidential letters, or the Last Jour- 
nals of Horace Walpole with the diary of John Adams ; 
— by those who contrast the old age of Lord Holland 
and of Franklin, or turn from the boyhood and youth 
of Charles Fox and Lord Carlisle to the strait and stern 
upbringing of the future liberators, creators, and rulers 
of America. Any reader, who belongs to the English 
race, may well take pride in the account which the 
founders of the great Republic have given of them- 
selves in documents not written for publication, and 
marked by a sincerity which attracts sympathy, and 
commands belief. There he may see the records of 
their birth, their nurture, and their early wrestling with 
the world. There he may admire the avidity with which, 
while they worked for their daily bread, they were 
snatching on every side at scraps of a higher education, 
and piecing them together into a culture admirably suited 
for the high affairs of administration, and diplomacy, and 
war to which their destiny was of a sudden, and unex- 
pectedly, to call them. But though they had larger 
minds and stronger wills than the common, their lot was 
the same as that of the majority among their country- 
men in the Northern colonies ; and their story, as far as 
their circumstances and chances in life were concerned, 
is the story of all. 

The father of John Adams was a labouring farmer, 
who wrought hard to live, and who did much public 



work for nothing. His eminent son put on record that 
" he was an officer of militia, afterwards a deacon of the 
church, and a Selectman of the town ; almost all the 
business of the town being managed by him in that 
•department for twenty years together; a man of strict 
piety, and great integrity; much esteemed and beloved, 
wherever he was known, which was not far, his sphere 
of life not being extensive." lie left behind him prop- 
erty valued at thirteen hundred pounds, and he had 
made it a prime object to give the most promising of 
his children that college education which he himself had 
missed. In those last particulars, and in much else, he 
was just such another as the father of Thomas Carlyle ; 
but there was this difference, that the elder John Adams, 
with his hard hands and his few score pounds a year, 
lived in a society where a man knew his own worth, and 
claimed and took the place which was due to him. 1 Pro- 
genitor of a long line ot Presidents and Ambassadors, 
the old Selectman of Braintree town held his head as 
erect in every presence as did any of his descendants. 
His son, a generation further removed from the depress- 
ing influences of the old world, and driven by the irre- 
sistible instinct of a strong man born on the eve of 
stirring times, prepared himself diligently for a high 
career with a noble indifference to the million and one 
chances that were against his attaining it. While teach- 
ing in a grammar school, for the wages of a day labourer, 
he bound himself to an attorney, and studied hard in his 
remnants of leisure. For a while his prospects seemed 
to him doleful enough. "I long," he wrote, "to be a 
master of Greek and Latin. I long to prosecute the 

1 " Even for the mere clothes-screens of rank my father testified no 
contempt. Their inward claim to regard was a thing which concerned 
them, not him. I love to figure him addressing those men with bared 
head by the title of ' Your Honour,' with a manner respectful but unem- 
barrassed ; a certain manful dignity looking through his own fine face, 
with his noble grey head bent patiently to the alas! unworthy." — 
Reminiscences of James Carlyle, p. 16. The beautiful passage, (towards 
the end of the little biography,) which begins "he was born and brought 
up the poorest" might, even to the figure of old Mr. Carlyle's fortune, 
have been written word for word about the father of John Adams. 


mathematical and philosophical sciences. I long to 
know a little of ethics and moral philosophy. But I 
have no books, no time, no friends. I must therefore 
be contented to live and die an ignorant obscure fellow." 

A man who rails in that strain against his own defi- 1 
ciencies is seldom long in mending them. John Adams* 
read greedily, whenever he could lay his hand on those 
literary works which possessed sufficient weight and 
momentum to have carried them across the seas and 
into Massachusetts, — Bacon and Bolingbroke, Bentley 
and Tillotson and Butler ; as well as Sydenham and 
Boerhaave, and a whole course of medical and surgical 
authorities which were lent him by a physician in whose 
house he was lodging. After two years of this training 
he became a lawyer, settled himself at Braintree, and 
the very next morning fell to work upon his Justinian. 
In 1759, while still three and twenty, he rewrote for his 
own guidance the fable of the choice of Hercules, with 
girls, guns, cards, and violins on the one side, and Mon- 
tesquieu and Lord Hale's " History of the Common 
Law " on the other. A list of the books which he had 
mastered, and which he planned to master, proves that 
his thoughts travelled far above the petty litigation of 
county and township. The field of study most congenial 
to him lay amidst those great treatises on natural law 
and civil law which were the proper nourishment for 
men who had the constitution of an empire latent in 
their brains. According to his own estimate he was a 
visionary and a trifler, — too proud to court the leaders 
of the local Bar, and too fine to gossip himself into the 
good graces of local clients. But his comrades, who 
knew him as the young know the young, had to seek 
beyond eighteen hundred years of time, and twice as 
many miles of space, for an historical character with 
whom to compare him. Jonathan Sewall, the close ally 
and generous rival of his early days, — who in later 
years justified his Christian name by an affection and 
fidelity proof against the strain of a difference of opinion 
concerning that Revolution which ruined the one friend, 


and raised the other to the first place in the State, — 
consoled John Adams in his obscurity by a parallel with 
no less a jurist than Cicero. " Who knows," Sewall 
wrote, " but in future ages, when New England shall 
have risen to its intended grandeur, it shall be as care- 
fully recorded that Adams flourished in the second 
century after the exodus of its first settlers from Great 
Britain, as it now is that Cicero was born in the six 
hundred and forty-seventh year after the building of 
Rome ? " 1 

Such are the day-dreams of five and twenty ; and 
seldom have they resulted in as notable a fulfilment. 
John Adams was the first who reached his goal of those 
young Americans whose aspirations, trivial only to the 
ignoble, have afforded to a great master the theme for 
some of his most musical sentences. " The youth, in- 
toxicated with his admiration of a hero, fails to see that 
it is only a projection of his own soul which he admires. 
In solitude, in a remote village, the ardent youth loiters 
and mourns. With inflamed eye, in this sleeping wil- 
derness, he has read the story of the Emperor Charles 
the Fifth, until his fancy has brought home to the sur- 
rounding woods the faint roar of cannonades in the 
Milanese, and marches in Germany. He is curious 
concerning that man's day. What filled it? The 
crowded orders, the stern decisions, the foreign de- 
spatches, the Castilian etiquette. The soul answers : 
1 Behold his day here ! In the sighing of these woods, 
in the quiet of these grey fields, in the cool breeze 
that sings out of these northern mountains ; in the 
hopes of the morning, the ennui of noon, and saunter- 
ing of the afternoon ; in the disquieting comparisons ; 
in the regrets at want of vigour ; in the great idea, and 
the puny execution ; — behold Charles the Fifth's day ; 
another yet the same ; behold Chatham's, Hampden's, 
Bayard's, Alfred's, Scipio's, Pericles's day — day of all 
that are born of women.' " 2 

1 Sewall to Adams ; 13th Feb., 1760. 

2 Emerson's oration at Dartmouth College ; July, 1838. 


The young man's outward environment was in strange 
contrast to the ideas on which his fancy fed. For many 
years to come his life was like a sonnet by Wordsworth 
done into dry and rugged prose. Slowly, with immense 
exertions of mind and body, he built up a leading prac- 
tice in the scattered and remote court-houses of the 
rural districts. He pursued his livelihood through a 
continuous course of rudest travel. Side by side with 
passages of keen political disquisition, and high-minded 
personal introspection, his journal tells the plain honour- 
able narrative of his humble adventures ; — how he was 
soaked in the rain, and pinched by cold, and sent miles 
out of his way by a swollen ford, and lost for hours 
amidst the interminable forests ; where he slept, or tried 
to sleep, after a hard day's journey, and with what tire- 
some company he had to share his bedroom ; where he 
"oated," and where the best he could do for his little 
mare was to set her loose, up to her shoulders in grass, 
in a roadside meadow ; and how he reached a friend's 
house at a quarter after twelve in the day, just as they 
had got their Indian pudding, and their pork and greens, 
upon the table. Occupied as he was in maintaining his 
family, Adams never shrank from his turn of public 
duty. He was surveyor of the highways of Braintree, 
and a very good surveyor; and, rising in due course 
through the official hierarchy, he became assessor and 
overseer of the poor, and Selectman, as his father before 
him. In 1768 he removed to Boston, which then was 
just of a size with the Boston in Lincolnshire of the 
present day. To his younger eyes it had seemed, a 
mighty capital, full of distractions and temptations ; 
and the time never came when he felt at home in a 
town, or indeed anywhere except among the sea-breezes 
and the pine-forests of " still, calm, happy Braintree." 
" Who can study," he wrote, " in Boston streets ? I 
cannot raise my mind above this crowd of men, women, 
beasts, and carriages, to think steadily. My attention 
is solicited every moment by some new object of sight, 
or some new sound. A coach, cart, a lady, or a priest 


may at any time disconcert a whole page of excellent 
thoughts." But his position as a lawyer, and the grave 
aspect of national affairs, — on which his opinions, rarely 
and modestly expressed, were universally known, and 
carried unusual weight, — made it his duly to establish 
himself in the neighbourhood of the superior courts, and 
in the political centre of the colony which was soon to 
become, for years together, the political battle-ground of 
the Empire. 

Jonathan Sewall, who already was Attorney-General 
of Massachusetts, was commissioned by the Governor 
t<» oiler Adams the post of Advocate-General in the 
Court of Admiralty. It was, as he records, a well-paid 
employment, a sure introduction to the most profitable 
business in the province, and a first step on the Ladder 
of favour and promotion. But Charles Townshend's 
new custom duties were by this time in operation ; and 
.Adams, in firm but respectful terms, replied that in 
the unsettled state of the country he could not place 
himself under an obligation oi gratitude to the Govern- 
ment. Four years afterwards he computed his worldly 
wealth, and found that, after paying two hundred and 
fifty pounds towards the purchase of his house in town, 
and after acquiring twenty acres of salt-marsh in the 
country, he was worth three hundred pounds in money. 
He was seven and thirty. It was the age at which 
Thurlow and Wedderburn reached the rank of Solicitor- 
General ; and at which Charles Yorke thought himself 
ill-used because he had been nothing higher than Attor- 
ney-General. "This," Adams wrote, "is all that my 
most intense application to study and business has been 
able to accomplish ; an application that has more than 
once been very near costing me my life, and that has 
so greatly impaired my health. Thirty-seven years, 
more than half the life of man, are run out. The re- 
mainder of my days I shall rather decline in sense, 
spirit, and activity. My season for acquiring knowledge 
is past, and yet I have my own and my children's for- 
tunes to make." That was the reward vvhioh hitherto 


had fallen to the share of one who became the ruler of 
the United States long before George the Third had 
ceased to rule the United Kingdom, and who survived 
until his own son asked for his blessing on the day 
when he, in his turn, was chosen to fill the same exalted 

There was another celebrated colonist whose youth 
had been fostered at a greater distance still from the 
lap of luxury. The inventory of the effects owned by 
the great-great-grandfather of John Adams showed 
that there had been a silver spoon in the family four 
generations back. But Franklin ate his breakfast with 
pewter out of earthenware until, when he was already 
a mature householder, his wife bought him a china 
bowl and a silver spoon, on the ground that her hus- 
band deserved to live as handsomely as any of his 
neighbours. 1 If he inherited no plate, he derived a 
more valuable legacy from his ancestors, who in their 
history and their qualities were worthy forerunners of 
the most typical American that ever lived. England 
in the seventeenth century gave, or rather thrust upon, 
the New World much of what was staunch and true, 
and much also of what was quick-witted and enterpris- 
ing, in her population. The Franklins, a Northampton- 
shire clan of very small freeholders, among whom the 
trade of blacksmith was as hereditary as in an Indian 
caste, were good Protestants in the worst of times. 
During the reign of Queen Mary the head of the house- 
hold kept his English Bible fastened with tapes beneath 
the seat of a stool, and read it aloud with the stool re- 
versed between his knees, while a child stood in the 
doorway to give the alarm in case an apparitor from 
the Spiritual Court was seen in the street. Benjamin 
Franklin's father was a stout and zealous noncon- 

1 " I am," Franklin wrote, " the youngest Son, of the youngest Son, of 
the youngest Son, of the youngest Son for five generations ; whereby I find 
that, had there originally been any Estate in the Family, none could have 
stood a worse chance of it." 


formist; and, when conventicles were forbidden in 
England by laws cruelly conceived and rigorously 
enforced, he carried his wife and children to Massa- 
chusetts in order that they might enjoy the exercise of 
their religion in freedom. He set up at Boston first as 
a dyer, and thru as a maker <>f soap and candles. The 
family character was marked by native ingenuity and 
homely public spirit. One of Franklin's uncles invented 
a shorthand of his own. Another, who remained at 
home in Northamptonshire, taught himself law; filled 
local offices of importance; was prime mover in all use- 
ful undertakings in town and county; and was long 
remembered in his village as a benefactor, an adviser, 
and (by the more ignorant) as a reputed conjurer. He 
set on foot a subscription to provide a set of chimes, 
which his nephew heard with satisfaction three-quarters 
of a century afterwards; and he discovered a simple, 
effective method of saving the common lands from 
being drowned by the river. "If Franklin says he 
knows how to do it, it will be done," was a phrase 
which had passed into a proverb for the neighbourhood. 
He died four years to a day before his brother's famous 
child was born. " 1 lad he died four \ ears later," it was 
said, "one might have supposed a transmigration." 

Benjamin Franklin had a right to be proud of the 
mental gifts which were born within him, when he 
looked back from the height of his fame to the material 
circumstances which surrounded him on his entrance 
into this world. Seldom did any man who started with 
as little accomplish so much, if we except certain of the 
august self-seekers in history whose career was carved 
out at a great cost of human life and human freedom. 
He had a year at a grammar-school, and a year at a 
commercial school ; and then he was taken into the 
family business, and set to serve at the counter and run 
on errands. He disliked the life ; and his father, who 
feared that he would break loose and go to sea, gravely 
took him a round of the shops in Boston, and showed 
him joiners, bricklayers, turners, braziers, and cutlers at 


their work, in order that, with knowledge of what he 
was about, he might choose his calling for himself. 
The boy, who was twelve years old, everywhere learned 
something which he never forgot, and which he turned 
to account in one or another of the seventy years that 
were before him. The combined good sense of parent 
and child led them to decide on the trade of a printer. 
He was bound apprentice, and from this time forward 
he read the books which passed under his hand. Others, 
which he loved better, he purchased to keep ; dining, a 
joyful anchorite, on a biscuit or a handful of raisins, in 
order that he might spend his savings on his infant 
library. He gave himself a classical education out of 
an odd volume of the "Spectator," rewriting the papers 
from memory, and correcting them by the original ; or 
turning the tales into verse, and back again into prose. 
He taught himself arithmetic thoroughly, and learned a 
little geometry and a little navigation ; both of which 
in after days he made to go a long way, and put to great 

But, above all, he trained himself as a logician; 
making trial of many successive systems with amazing 
zest, until he founded an unpretentious school of his 
own in which his pre-eminence has never been ques- 
tioned. He traversed with rapidity all the stages in 
the art of reasoning, from the earliest phase, when a 
man only succeeds in being disagreeable to his fellows, 
up to the period when he has become a proficient in the 
science of persuading them. He began by arguing to 
confute, " souring and spoiling the conversation," and 
making enemies, instead of disciples, at every turn. " I 
had caught this," he wrote, "by reading my father's 
books of dispute on religion. Persons of good sense, I 
have since observed, seldom fall into it, except lawyers, 
university men, and generally men of all sorts who 
have been bred at Edinburgh." He next lighted upon 
a translation of Xenophon's " Memorabilia," and, capti- 
vated by the charms of the Socratic dialogue, he dropped 
the weapons of abrupt contradiction and positive as- 

• ,\y / WIN FR XNKUN 45 

sertion, and put on the humble inquirer. He grew 
very expert in drawing people into concessions, the 
consequences oi which they did not foresee, espe- 
cially people who were not familiar with Shaftesbury's 
" Characterist and Collins's "Discourse on Free 

Thinking." From his own study of those works he had 
derived conclusions which made it sain- for him to 
proselytise tin* Boston oi that day by a process of sug- 
gestion and induction rather than by dogmatic exposi- 
tion. At length he found his friends -rcw wary, 
and w<»uld hardly reply to the most common question 
without asking first what he intended to infer from the 
answer. Then he once more changed his style of con- 
versation ; and this time for good. Keeping nothing of 
his former method except the habit <>t expressing him- 
self "with modest diffidence," he refrained altogether 
from the words " xtainly," and "undoubtedly," and 
from the air oi superiority which generally 

accompanies them. The phrases with which he m 

his point, and seldom tailed to cane it. weir " I con- 
ceive," or "I apprehend," or "It appears to me." or 
"Itisso.ii" I ;nn not mistaken." He made it a practice, 
Likewise, to encourage his interlocutors to think that 

the opinion which he aimed at instilling into them was 
theirs already. It, as he pleased himself with believing, 

he had Learned these aits from Socrates, the teaching 
ot" the Academy had tor once borne an abundant crop 
of Baconian fruit ; for it would be hard to name a man 
who, over so Ion-- a space of time as Franklin, ever 
talked so main* people into doing that which was for 
their own improvement and advantage. 

The theatre of his beneficent operations was not his 
native city. Boston, in common with the world at he 
gathered in due time some o( the crumbs which fell 
from the table (A' his inventiveness ; but she very soon 
lost the first claim upon one who was as clever a son 
as even she ever produced. At the age of seventeen 
Franklin walked into the capital of Pennsylvania, his 
pockets stuffed with shirts and stockings, but empty of 


money ; carrying a roll under each arm, and eating 
as he went along. The expansive possibilities of an 
American's career may be traced in every page of his 
early story. The intimate companions of his poverty, 
young as he, made their way in the world soon and far. 
One, who went to England, got himself into a couplet 
of the " Dunciad " ; wrote a History of William the 
Third which was praised by Charles Fox ; and extracted 
from the Earl of Bute a pension twice as large as Dr. 
Johnson's. Another became an eminent lawyer, and 
died rich while he and Franklin were still below middle 
age. The two friends had agreed that the one who left 
the earth first should afterwards pay a visit to the other; 
but the ghost had yet to be found which had the cour- 
age to present itself to Franklin. 

He worked hard, and lived very hardly indeed in 
Philadelphia, and in London for a while, and in Phila- 
delphia again. At the end of ten years he was securely 
settled in business as a stationer and master-printer, and 
the owner of a newspaper which soon became an ex- 
cellent property, and which bore the trace of his hand 
in every corner of its columns. 1 By a miracle of indus- 
try and thrift, he had paid out his first partners, and 
paid off his borrowed capital. It was no longer neces- 
sary for him to breakfast on gruel, and sup on half an 
anchovy and a slice of bread ; to be at work when his 
neighbours returned at night from the club, and at work 
again before they rose in the morning ; to wheel the 
paper for his Gazette home through the streets on a 
barrow, and to take neither rest nor recreation except 
when a book " debauched " him from his labours. From 
the moment that he had set his foot firmly on the path 

1 The following advertisement appears in the Pennsylvanian Gazette^ 
for June 23rd, 1737: "Taken out of a pew in the church, some months 
since, a Common Prayer Book, bound in red, gilt, and lettered D. F. on 
each cover. The person who took it is desired to open it and read the 
eighth Commandment, and afterwards return it into the same pew again ; 
upon which no further notice will be taken." J). F. stands for Deborah 


of fortune, he threw his vast energy, his audacious crea- 
tiveness, his dexterity in the management of his fellow- 
creatures, and a good portion of his increased though 
still slender substance, into the service of his adopted 
city. One scheme followed hard upon another ; each 
of them exactly suited to local wants which Franklin 
was quick to discern, and to a national taste with which 
he was entirely in sympathy. By the end of a quarter 
of a century Philadelphia lacked nothing that was pos- 
sessed by any city in England, except a close corpo- 
ration and a bull-ring, and enjoyed in addition a com- 
plete outfit of institutions which were eagerly imitated 
throughout the Northern colonies. 

Franklin's first project was a book-club; the mother, 
to use his own words, of those subscription libraries 
which perceptibly raised the standard of American con- 
versation, "and made tradesmen and farmers as intelli- 
gent as the gentry of other countries." Then came, 
in rapid succession, a volunteer fire company ; a paid 
police-force ; a public hospital ; a Philosophical Society ; 
an Academy, which he lived to see develop itself into 
the University of Pennsylvania ; and a paper currency 
which, with his stern views on private and public credit, 
he, fortunately for him, did not live to see at the height 
of its notoriety in the shape of the memorable Pennsyl- 
vanian Bonds. He turned his attention successfully to 
the paving and scavenging of the highways. When 
the city was first lighted, he designed the form of street- 
lamp which has long been in universal use wherever 
Anglo-Saxons now burn gas, or once burned oil. He 
invented a hot-stove for sitting-rooms, and refused a 
patent for it, on the ground that he himself had profited 
so much by the discoveries of others that he was only 
too glad of an opportunity to repay his debt, and to 
repay it in a shape so peculiarly acceptable to his 
country-women. Whitefield, whom everybody except 
the clergy wished to hear, had been refused the use 
of the existing pulpits. Franklin, as his contribution to 
the cause of religion, promoted the building of a spacious 


meetinghouse, vested in trustees, expressly for the use, 
of any preacher of any denomination who might desire 
to say something to the people of Philadelphia. 

In 1744, on the breaking out of war with France, 
Franklin excited the patriotism of Pennsylvania by 
voice and pen, and directed it into the practical channel 
of enrolling a State militia, and constructing a battery 
for the protection of the river. He raised the requisite 
funds by a lottery in which he was artful enough to 
induce the members of the Society of Friends to take 
tickets, knowing well that, without their support, no 
scheme appealing to the purse would be very produc- 
tive in Philadelphia. In order to arm his embrasures, 
he applied to Governor Clinton of New York for can- 
non, who met him with a flat refusal. But Franklin 
sate with him over his Madeira until, as the bumpers 
went round, his Excellency consented to give six guns, 
then rose to ten, and ended by contributing to the de- 
fence of the Delaware no less than eighteen fine pieces, 
with carriages included. Eleven years afterwards, when 
Braddock marched to the attack of Fort Duquesne, 
Franklin, by the earnest request of the general, and at 
formidable risk to his own private fortune, organised 
the transport and commissariat with an ability and a 
foresight in marked contrast to the military conduct of 
the ill-fated expedition. In the terrible panic which 
ensued when the news of the disaster reached Phila- 
delphia, the authorities of the colony, — catching at the 
hope that, as he understood everything else, there was 
at least a chance of his understanding how to fight, < — 
entrusted him with the defence of the North-West 
frontier against the imminent peril of an Indian inva- 
sion. He levied and commanded a respectable force, 
and threw up a line of forts, the planning and building 
of which gave him the most exquisite satisfaction ; and, 
on his return home, he accepted the highest title of a 
true American by becoming a Colonel of Militia, and 
was greeted by his regiment with a salvo of artillery 
which broke several glasses of the electrical apparatus 


that had already made his name famous throughout the 
entire scientific world. 

There were few military posts with regard to which 
Franklin, if he was not competent to fill them himself, 
could not give a useful hint to their holder. The chaplain 
of his troops complained that the men would not attend 
public worship. The commanding officer accordingly 
suggested that the chaplain should himself serve out 
the rum when prayers were over; "and never," said 
Franklin, " were prayers more generally and punctually 
attended. I think this method preferable to the punish- 
ment inflicted by some military laws for non-attendance 
on divine service." Wherever he went, and whatever 
he was engaged upon, he was always calculating, and 
never guessing. When he built his forts, he soon 
noticed that two men cut down a pine of fourteen inches 
in diameter in six minutes, and that each pine made 
three palisades eighteen feet in length. When he was 
collecting money for his Battery, he satisfied himself, by 
means of an intricate computation, that, out of every 
twenty-two Quakers, only one sincerely disapproved of 
participation in a war of defence. And, on an evening 
when Whitefield was delivering a sermon from the top of 
theCourt-House steps, Franklin moved about in the crowd, 
and measured distances, until he had ascertained that the 
human voice, or at any rate Whitefield's voice, could be 
heard by more than thirty thousand people. " This," he 
said, " reconciled me to the newspaper accounts of his 
having preached to twenty-five thousand people in the 
fields, and to the history of generals haranguing whole 
armies, of which I had sometimes doubted." 

His growing reputation brought him important public 
employment, though not any great amount of direct 
public remuneration. He was chosen Clerk of the 
Pennsylvanian Assembly in 1736 ; and next year he was 
placed at the head of the Pennsylvanian Post Office. 
As time went on, the British Government, finding that 
the postal revenue of the colonies had fallen to less than 
nothing, appointed Franklin Joint Postmaster-General of 

VOL. I. E 


America, with a colleague to help him. The pair were 
to have six hundred pounds a year between them, if they 
could make that sum out of the profits of the office. For 
four years the balance was against them ; but at the end 
of that time the department, managed according to the 
precepts of " The Way to Wealth " in Poor Richard's 
Almanac, began to pay, and paid ever better yearly, 
until it yielded the Crown a net receipt three times as 
large as that of the Post Office in Ireland. So much 
he did for himself, and so much more he was enabled 
to do for others, by a strict obedience to the promptings 
of a mother-wit which, in great things as in small, was 
all but infallible, and by a knowledge of human nature 
diplomatic even to the verge of wiliness. When he 
had a project on foot, he would put his vanity in the 
back-ground, and would represent the matter as the 
plan of a number of friends, who had requested him to 
go about and recommend it to public favour and support. 
To conciliate an enemy, if all other means failed, he 
would beg of him a trifling service, which in decency 
could not be refused ; relying on the maxim that " He 
who has once done you a kindness will be more ready 
to do you another than he whom you have yourself 
obliged." For the furtherance of all his undertakings, 
he had a powerful instrument in a newspaper as respect- 
able as it was readable ; which, with a fine prescience 
of the possible dangers of a free press to America, and 
not to America alone, he steadily refused to make the 
vehicle of scurrilous gossip and personal detraction. 
By such arts as these he fulfilled to the letter the augury 
of his good old father, who in past days loved to remind 
him that a man diligent in his calling should stand 
before Kings, and not before mean men. " I did not 
think," said Franklin, " that I should ever literally stand 
before Kings, which, however, has since happened ; for 
I have stood before five, and even had the honour of 
sitting down with one, the King of Denmark, to dinner." 
Franklin had the habit, which was the basis of his 
originality, of practising himself what he preached to 

3 4 I * 


others. He kept his accounts in morals as minutely as 
in business matters. He drew up a catalogue of twelve 
virtues which it was essential to cultivate, commencing 
with Temperance and ending with Chastity ; to which 
at a subsequent period a Quaker friend, who knew him 
well, advised him to add Humility. " My intention," he 
wrote, " being to acquire the habitude of those virtues, 
I judged it would be well not to distract my attention 
by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of 
them at a time ; and, when I should be master of that, 
then to proceed to another, till I should have gone 
through the thirteen. And, as the previous acquisition 
of some might facilitate the acquisition of certain others, 
I arranged them with that view." By the time he be- 
came Joint Postmaster-General of America, he had 
made his ground sure enough to justify him in relaxing 
his vigilance, though he carried his little book on all his 
voyages as a precaution and a reminder. The Joint 
Postmaster-General of England, who was no other than 
the Earl of Sandwich, would not have got very far along 
the list of virtues, at whichever end he had begun. 

The leaders of thought in America, and those who in 
coming days were the leaders of war, had all been bred 
in one class or another of the same severe school. 
Samuel Adams, who started and guided New England 
in its resistance to the Stamp Act, was a Calvinist by 
conviction. The austere purity of his household recalled 
an English home in the Eastern Counties during the 
early half of the seventeenth century. He held the 
political creed of the fathers of the colony ; and it was a 
faith as real and sacred to him as it had been to them. 
His fortune was small. Even in that city of plain liv- 
ing, men blamed him because he did not take sufficient 
thought for the morrow ; but he had a pride which knew 
no shame in poverty, and an integrity far superior to its 
temptations. Alexander Hamilton, serving well and 
faithfully, but sorely against the grain, as a clerk in a 
merchant's office, had earned and saved the means of 



putting himself, late in the day, to college. Jefferson, 
who inherited wealth, used it to obtain the highest edu- 
cation which his native country could then provide; 
entered a profession ; and worked at it after such a 
fashion that by thirty he was the leading lawyer of his 
colony, and that no less a colony than Virginia. The 
future warriors of the Revolution had a still harder 
apprenticeship. Israel Putnam had fought the Indians 
and the French for a score of years, and in a score of 
battles ; leading his men in the dress of a woodman, 
with firelock on shoulder and hatchet at side ; a powder 
horn under his right arm, and a bag of bullets at his 
waist, and, (as the distinctive equipment of an officer,) 
a pocket compass to guide their marches through the 
forest. He had known what it was to have his comrades 
scalped before his eyes, and to stand gashed in the face 
with a tomahawk, and bound to the trunk of a tree, with 
a torture-fire crackling about him. From adventures 
which, in the back settlements, were regarded merely as 
the harder side of a farmer's work, he would go home to 
build fences with no consciousness of heroism, and still 
less with any anticipation of the world-famous scenes for 
his part in which these experiences of the wilderness 
were training him. Nathanael Greene, the ablest of 
Washington's lieutenants, — of those at any rate who 
remained true to their cause from first to last, — was 
one of eight sons, born in a house of a single story. 
His father combined certain humble trades with the 
care of a small farm, and, none the less or the worse on 
account of his week-day avocations, was a preacher of 
the gospel. " The son," Mr. Bancroft tells us, " excelled 
in diligence and manly sports. None of his age could 
wrestle, or skate, or run better than he, or stand before 
him as a neat ploughman and skilful mechanic." Under 
such literary and scientific guidance as he could find 
among his neighbours, he learned geometry, and its 
application to the practical work of a new country. He 
read poetry and philosophy, as they are read by a man 
of many and great thoughts, whose books are few but 



good. Above all, he made a special study of Plutarch 
and of Caesar, — authors who, whether in a translation, 
or in the original Greek and Latin, never give out their 
innermost meaning except to brave hearts on the eve of 
grave events. 1 

Meantime the military chief upon whom the main 
weight of responsibility was to rest had been disciplined 
for his career betimes. At an age when a youth of his 
rank in England would have been shirking a lecture in 
order to visit Newmarket, or settling the colour of his 
first lace coat, Washington was surveying the valleys of 
the Alleghany Mountains. He slept in all weathers 
under the open sky ; he swam his horses across rivers 
swollen with melted snow ; and he learned, as sooner or 
later a soldier must, to guess what was on the other side 
of the hill, and to judge how far the hill itself was dis- 
tant. At nineteen he was in charge of a district on the 
frontier; and at twenty-two he fought his first battle, 
with forty men against five and thirty, and won a victory, 
on its own small scale, as complete as that of Quebec. 
The leader of the French was killed, and all his party 
shot down or taken. It was an affair which, coming at 
one of the rare intervals when the world was at peace, 
made a noise as far off as Europe, and gained for the 
young officer in London circles a tribute of hearty praise, 
with its due accompaniment of envy and misrepresenta- 
tion. Horace Walpole gravely records in his Memoirs 
of George the Second that Major Washington had con- 
cluded the letter announcing his success with the words : 
" I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there is 
something charming in the sound." Of course there was 
nothing of the sort in the despatch, which in its business- 
like simplicity might have been written by Wellington 
at six and forty. Many years afterwards a clergyman, 

1 Those who read or write about the American Revolution owe great 
obligations to Mr. Bancroft. His History of the United States of America 
supplies a vast mass of detail, illuminated by a fine spirit of liberty, which 
is inspired indeed by patriotism, but is not bounded in its scope by any 
limitations of country or of century. 


braver even than Washington, asked him if the story was 
true. " If I said so," replied the General, "it was when 
I was young." 

But his was a fame which struck its roots deepest in 
discouragement, and even in defeat; and that unwelcome 
feature in his destiny he soon had cause to recognise. 
In July, 1755, he came from the ambuscade in front of 
Fort Duquesne with thirty men alive out of his three 
companies of Virginians ; with four shot-holes in his coat ; 
and a name for coolness and conduct which made him 
the talk of the whole empire, and the pride of the colony 
that bore him. 1 During the three coming years, as Com- 
mander-in-Chief of her forces, he did his utmost to keep 
her borders safe and her honour high. For himself it 
was a season of trial, sore to bear, but rich in lessons. 
The Governor of Virginia grudged him rank and pay, and 
stinted him in men and means ; lost no opportunity of 
reminding him that he was a provincial and not a royal 
officer ; and made himself the centre of military intrigues 
which gave Washington a foretaste of what he was to 
endure at the hands of Charles Lee, and Gates, and Bene- 
dict Arnold, in the darkest hours of his country's history. 
But a time came when William Pitt, who understood 
America, was in a position to insist on fair play and equal 
treatment to the colonists who were supporting so large 
a share in the burdens and dangers of the war. Under 
his auspices Washington directed the advanced party of 
an expedition which placed the British flag on Fort 
Duquesne, and performed the last offices to the mortal 
remains of those British soldiers who had perished in the 
woods which covered the approaches to the fatal strong- 
hold. After this success, which made his native province 
as secure from invasion as Warwickshire, the young man 

1 Long before Washington reached the age of thirty, his fame was solidly 
established on both sides of the Atlantic. He was born in 1732; and 
in 1 759 the Rev. Andrew Burnaby, Archdeacon of Leicester and Vicar of 
Greenwich, visited Mount Vernon during the first year of Washington's 
proprietorship, and saw it with admiration and approval. "This place," 
the traveller wrote, " is the property of Colonel Washington, and truly de« 
serving of its owner." 


retired into private life, with no recompense for his ser- 
vices except the confidence and gratitude of his fellow- 
citizens. He had received a practical education in the 
science of generalship such as few except born princes 
have ever acquired by six and twenty, combined with a 
mental and moral drilling more indispensable still to one 
whose military difficulties, however exceptionally arduous, 
were the smallest part of the ordeal laid up for him in 
the future. 

Such were the men who had been reluctantly drawn 
by their own sense of duty, and by the urgent appeals of 
friends and neighbours, into the front rank of a conflict 
which was none of their planning. Some of them were 
bred in poverty, and all of them lived in tranquil and 
modest homes. They made small gains by their private 
occupations, and did much public service for very little 
or for nothing, and in many cases out of their own 
charges. They knew of pensions and sinecures only by 
distant hearsay ; and ribands or titles were so much out- 
side their scope that they had not even to ask themselves 
what those distinctions were worth. Their antecedents 
and their type of character were very different from those 
of any leading Minister in the British Cabinet ; and they 
were likely to prove dangerous customers when the one 
class of men and of ideas was brought into collision with 
the other. While Washington and the Adamses led 
laborious days, the English statesmen who moulded the 
destinies of America into such an unlooked-for shape 
were coming to the front by very different methods. 
They had for the most part trod an easier though a more 
tortuous path to place and power ; or rather to the power 
of doing as their monarch bade them. George the 
Third's system of personal government had long become 
an established fact, and the career of an aspirant to of- 
fice under that system was now quite an old story. "A 
young man is inflamed with love of his country. Liberty 
charms him. He speaks, writes, and drinks for her. He 
searches records, draws remonstrances, fears Preroga- 


tive. A secretary of the Treasury waits on him in the 
evening. He appears next morning at a minister's 
levee. He goes to Court, is captivated by the King's 
affability, moves an address, drops a censure on the lib- 
erty of the press, kisses hands for a place, bespeaks a 
Birthday coat, votes against Magna Charta, builds a 
house in town, lays his farms into pleasure-grounds under 
the inspection of Mr. Brown, pays nobody, games, is 
undone, asks a reversion for three lives, is refused, finds 
the constitution in danger, and becomes a patriot once 
more." 1 That passage would be no libel if applied to 
all except a few members of the Government ; — a Gov- 
ernment which was controlled by the Bedfords, and ad- 
vised on legal questions by Wedderburn, whose creed 
was self-interest ; and which was soon to be advised on 
military questions by Lord George Germaine, who had 
forfeited his reputation by refusing to bring forward the 
cavalry at Minden. It was a cruel fate for a country 
possessing statesmen like Chatham and Burke, a jurist 
like Camden, and soldiers with the unstained honour and 
solid professional attainments of Conway and Barre. 
With such talents lying unemployed, and such voices 
crying unheeded, the nation was precipitated into a 
gratuitous and deplorable policy by men who did not so 
much as believe in the expediency of the course which 
they were pursuing. To the worse, and unfortunately 
the abler, section of the Ministry, the right and wrong 
'of the question mattered not one of the straws in which 
their champagne bottles were packed ; while the better 
of them, knowing perfectly well that the undertaking on 
which they had embarked was a crime and a folly, with 
sad hearts and sore consciences went into the business, 
and some of them through the business, because the 
King wished it. 

And yet, of all the political forces then in existence, 
the King's influence was the very last which ought 
to have been exerted against the cause of concord. He 

1 The Spectator. Number None, written by Nobody. Sunday, January 
19th, 1772. 


might well have been touched by the persistence with 
which his American subjects continued to regard him 
as standing towards them in that relation which a sov- 
ereign "born and bred a Briton" should of all others 
prefer. A law-respecting people, who did not care to 
encroach on the privileges of others, and liked still less 
to have their own rights invaded, they were slow to de- 
tect the tricks which of recent years had been played 
with the essential doctrines of the English Constitution. 
When the home Government ill-used them, they blamed 
the Ministry, and pleased themselves by believing that 
the King, if he ever could contemplate the notion of 
stretching his prerogative, would be tempted to do so 
for the purpose of protecting them. George the Third 
was the object of hope and warm devotion in America 
at the moment when, in the City of London, and among 
the freeholders of the English counties, he was in the 
depths of his unpopularity. In the April of 1768 the 
King, if he had listened to any adviser except his own 
stout heart, would not have ventured to show himself 
outside his palace. His Lord Steward was exchanging 
blows with the angry Liverymen at the doors of the 
Presence Chamber ; the Grand Jury of Middlesex was 
refusing to return the rioters for trial ; and Junius 
could not attack the Crown too ferociously, or flatter 
Wilkes too grossly, to please the public taste. But in 
that very month Franklin, writing to a Pennsylvanian 
correspondent a sentiment with which almost every 
Pennsylvanian would have concurred, expressed his 
conviction that some punishment must be preparing 
for a people who were ungratefully abusing the best 
constitution, and the best monarch, any nation was ever 
blessed with. A year afterwards, in the letter which 
conveyed to his employers in America the unwelcome 
intelligence that the House of Commons had refused 
to repeal Townshend's custom-duties, Franklin carefully 
discriminated between the known ill-will entertained 
by Parliament towards the colonies, and the presumed 
personal inclinations of the King. " I hope nothing 


that has happened, or may happen, will diminish in the 
least our loyalty to our sovereign or affection for this 
nation in general. I can scarcely conceive a King of 
better dispositions, or more exemplary virtues, or more 
truly desirous of promoting the welfare of all his 
subjects. The body of this people, too, is of a noble 
and generous nature, loving and honouring the spirit of 
liberty, and hating arbitrary power of all sorts. We 
have many, very many, friends among them." Six 
years afterwards, when the first blood had been shed, — 
when George the Third was writing to his Minister to 
express his delight at the cruel laws that were passed 
against the colonists, and his discontent with every 
English public man who still regarded his brethren 
across the water with friendly, or even tolerant, feelings, 
— this letter, with others from the same hand, was 
seized by a British officer in Boston, and sent to Lon- 
don to be submitted to his Majesty's inspection. With 
what sensations must he then have read the evidence of a 
love and a loyalty which by that time were dead for ever ! 
Franklin, in the passage which has been quoted, did 
well to give the British people their share in the good- 
will which America felt towards the British sovereign. 
The colonists were favourably disposed to George the 
Third not only for himself, or for his supposed self, but 
because he was the great representative of the mother- 
country, — the figurehead of the stately ship which so 
long had carried the undivided fortunes of their race. 
They loved the King because they dearly loved the 
name, the associations, the literature, the religious faith, 
the habits, the sports, the art, the architecture, the 
scenery, the very soil, of his kingdom. That love was 
acknowledged in pathetic language by men who had 
drawn their swords against us because, willing to owe 
everything else to England, they did not recognise her 
claim to measure them out their portion of liberty. 
The feeling entertained towards her by some of the best 
of those who were forced by events to enroll themselves 
among her adversaries is well exemplified by the career 


and the writings of Alexander Garden. Born in South 
Carolina, he had been sent to Europe for his education; 
and when he came to man's estate, he defied a Loyalist 
father in order to fight for the Revolution under Nathan- 
ael Greene and Henry Lee. In his later years he collected 
an enormous multitude of personal anecdotes relating 
to the great struggle, told with transparent fidelity, but 
infused with no common dose of that bombastic element 
which in our generation has died out from American 
literature, but not before it has made for itself an imper- 
ishable name. " One truth," (so Garden wrote in his 
better and less ornate style,) "comes home to the recol- 
lection of every man who lived in those days. The at- 
tachment to England was such that to whatever the 
colonists wished to affix the stamp of excellence the 
title of ' English ' was always given. To reside in Eng- 
land was the object of universal desire, the cherished 
hope of every bosom. It was considered as the delight- 
ful haven, where peace and happiness were alone to be 
looked for. A parent sending his sons to Eton or 
Westminster would say : ' I am sending my sons home 
for their education.' If he himself should cross the 
Atlantic, though but for a summer season, to witness 
their progress, he would say, ' I am going home to visit 
my children.' " 

The esteem and veneration of America had been con- 
centrated all the more upon the throne itself, because 
there were very few British statesmen who were famous 
and popular in the colonies. The difficulties of locomo- 
tion were still so great that not one rural constituent, out 
of a hundred, in England had ever heard his member 
speak in the House of Commons. It was hard enough 
even for a Yorkshireman, or a Cornishman, to feel much 
enthusiasm for orators meagrely reported after the whim- 
sical methods then in fashion ; i and to an average New 
Englander the most celebrated personalities in the West- 

1 The Parliamentary Reports in the Gentleman's Magazine were, for a 
long while together, composed in the language of Gulliver's Travels. The 
reader was informed how the Nardac Poltrand had moved an Address in 


minster Parliament were mere names, and nothing more. 
About any individual Right Plonourable gentleman, or 
Lord Temporal, the colonists knew little, and cared less ; 
and their only concern with Lords Spiritual was to insist, 
obstinately and most successfully, that they should keep 
themselves on their own side of the Atlantic. But at 
last a man arose whose deeds spoke for him, and the 
fragments of whose eloquence were passed far and wide 
from mouth to ear, and did not lose the stamp of their 
quality in the carrying. With his broad heart, his swift 
perception, and his capacious intellect, Chatham knew 
America, and he loved her ; and he was known and loved 
by her in return. He had done more for her than any 
ruler had done for any country since William .the Silent 
saved and made Holland ; and she repaid him with a 
true loyalty. When the evil day came, it was to Chatham 
that she looked for the good offices which might avert 
an appeal to arms. When hostilities had broken out, 
she fixed on him her hopes of an honourable peace. 
And when he died, — in the very act of confessing her 
wrongs, though of repudiating and condemning the 
establishment of that national independence on which 
her own mind was by that time irrevocably set, — she 
refused to allow that she had anything to forgive him, 
and mourned him as a father of her people. 

His name recalled proud memories, in whatever part 
of the colonies it was spoken. Under his guidance, 
throughout a war fertile in splendid results, Americans 
had fought side by side with Englishmen as compatriots 
rather than as auxiliaries. They had given him cheer- 
fully, in men, in money, and in supplies, whatever he 
had asked to aid the national cause and secure the 
common safety. On one single expedition nine thou- 
sand provincials had marched from the Northern dis- 

the House of Hurgoes, complaining of the injuries sustained by Lilliputian 
subjects trading in Columbia ; and how the Hurgo Ghevvor had replied 
that " ungrounded jealousy of Blefuscu had already cost the Treasury of 
Lilliput no less than five hundred thousand sprugs." An editor was driven 
to such devices in the hope of baffling or conciliating the government 


tricts alone. The little colony of Connecticut had five 
thousand of her citizens under arms. Massachusetts 
raised seven thousand militia-men, and taxed herself 
at the rate of thirteen shillings and fourpence in the 
pound of personal income. New Jersey expended, dur- 
ing every year of the war, at the rate of a pound a head 
for each of her inhabitants. That was how the French 
were cleared from the Great Lakes, and from the valley 
and the tributaries of the Ohio. That was how Ticon- 
deroga and Crown Point fell, and the way was opened for 
the siege of Quebec and the conquest of the Canadian 
Dominion. What they had done before, the colonists 
were willing and ready to do again, if they were allowed 
to do it in their own fashion, in every successive colli- 
sion with a foreign enemy England would have found 
America's power to assist the mother-country doubled, 
and her will as keen as ever. The colonies which, for 
three livelong years between the spring of 1775 and the 
spring of r 7 7 S , held their own against the unbroken and 
undiverted strength of Britain, would have made short 
work of any army of invasion that the Court of Ver- 
sailles, with its hands full in Europe, could have de- 
tached to recover Canada or to subdue New England. 
Armed vessels in great number would have been fitted 
out by a patriotism which never has been averse to that 
enticing form of speculation, and would have been 
manned by swarms of handy and hardy seamen, who in 
war-time found privateering safer work than the fisher- 
ies, and vastly more exciting. The seas would have 
been made so hot by the colonial corsairs that no French 
or Spanish trader would have shown her nose outside 
the ports of St. Domingo or Cuba except under an escort 
numerous enough to invite the grim attentions of a Brit- 
ish squadron. But it was a very different matter that 
America should be called upon to maintain a standing 
army of royal troops, at a moment when not a grain of 
our powder was being burned in anger on the surface 
of the globe ; and that those troops should be quartered 
permanently within her borders, and paid out of Ameri- 


can taxes which the British Parliament had imposed, 
exacted by tax-gatherers commissioned by the British 
Ministry. It is hard to understand how any set of 
statesmen, who knew the methods which Chatham had 
employed with brilliant success, should have conceived 
the design of using German mercenaries and Indian 
savages to coerce English colonists into defending the 
Empire in exact accordance with the ideas which hap- 
pened to find favour in Downing Street. 

So great was the value of America for fighting pur- 
poses. But, in peace and war alike, her contribution 
to the wealth, the power, the true renown of England, 
exceeded anything which hitherto had marked the 
mutual relations of a parent State with a colony ; and 
that contribution was growing fast. Already the best 
of customers, she took for her share more than a fourth 
part of the sixteen million pounds' worth in annual value 
at which the British exports were then computed ; and 
no limit could be named to the expansion of a trade 
founded on the wants of a population which had doubled 
itself within a quarter of a century, and whose standard 
of comfort was rising even more rapidly than its num- 
bers. But the glory which was reflected on our country 
by her great colony was not to be measured by tons of 
goods or thousands of dollars. All who loved England 
wisely, dwelt with satisfaction upon the prosperity of 
America. It was to them a proud thought that so 
great a mass of industry, such universally diffused com- 
fort, so much public disinterestedness and private virtue, 
should have derived its origin from our firesides, and 
have grown up under our aegis. 

It is impossible to avoid regretting that American 
society, and the American character, were not allowed to 
develop themselves in a natural and unbroken growth 
from the point which they had reached at the close of 
the first century and a half of their history. The Revo- 
lutionary war which began in 1775 changed many things 
and troubled many waters ; as a civil war always has 
done, and always must. The mutual hatred felt, and the 


barbarities inflicted and suffered, by partisans of either 
side in Georgia and the Carolinas between 1776 and 1782 
left behind them in those regions habits of lawlessness 
and violence, evil traces of which lasted into our life- 
time ; and as for the Northern States, it was a pity that 
the wholesome and happy conditions of existence pre- 
vailing there before the struggle for Independence were 
ever disturbed ; for no change was likely to improve 
them. If the King, as a good shepherd, was thinking 
of his flock and not of himself, it is hard to see what he 
hoped to do for the benefit of the colonists. All they 
asked of him was to be let alone ; and with reason ; for 
they had as just cause for contentment as any popula- 
tion on the surface of the globe. " I have lately," wrote 
Franklin, "made a tour through Ireland and Scotland. 
In those countries a small part of the society are land- 
lords, great noblemen, and gentlemen, extremely opu- 
lent, living in the highest affluence and magnificence. 
The bulk of the people are tenants, extremely poor, 
living in the most sordid wretchedness, in dirty hovels 
of mud and straw, and clothed only in rags. I thought 
often of the happiness of New England, where every 
man is a freeholder, has a vote in public affairs, lives in 
a tidy warm house, has plenty of good food and fuel, 
with whole clothes from head to foot, the manufacture 
perhaps of his own family." x 

It was no wonder that they were freeholders ; inas- 
much as real property could be bought for little in the 
cultivated parts of New England, and for next to noth- 
ing in the outlying districts. Land was no dearer as the 
purchaser travelled southwards. There is in existence 
an amusing series of letters from a certain Alexander 
Mackrabie in America to his brother-in-law in England : 
and that brother-in-law knew a good letter from a dull 
one, inasmuch as he was Philip Francis. In 1770 Mack- 
rabie wrote from Philadelphia to ask what possessed 
Junius to address the King in a letter " past all endur- 
ance," and to inquire who the devil Junius was. He 

1 Benjamin Franklin to Joshua Badcock ; London, 13 January, 1772. 


sweetened the alarm which he unconsciously gave to his 
eminent correspondent by offering him a thousand good 
acres in Maryland for a hundred and thirty pounds, and 
assuring him that farms on the Ohio would be " as cheap 
as stinking mackerel." 2 Colonists whose capital con- 
sisted in their four limbs, especially if they were skilled 
mechanics, had no occasion to envy people who could 
buy land, or who had inherited it. Social existence in 
America was profoundly influenced by the very small 
variation of income, and still smaller of expenditure, at 
every grade of the scale. The Governor of a great 
province could live in style in his city house and his 
country house, and could keep his coach and what his 
guests called a genteel table, on five hundred pounds a 
year, or something like thirty shillings for each of his 
working days. A ship's carpenter, in what was for 
America a great city, received five and sixpence a day, 
including the value of his pint of rum, the amount of 
alcohol contained in which was about an equivalent to 
the Governor's daily allowance of Madeira. The Rector 
of Philadelphia Academy, who taught Greek and Latin, 
received two hundred pounds a year ; the Mathematical 
Professor a hundred and twenty-five pounds ; and the 
three Assistant Tutors sixty pounds apiece ; — all in 
local currency, from which about forty per cent, would 
have to be deducted in order to express the sums in 
English money. In currency of much the same value a 
house carpenter or a bricklayer earned eight shillings 
a day, which was as much as a Mathematical Professor, 
and twice as much as an Assistant Tutor. 2 

All lived well. All had a share in the best that was 
going ; and the best was far from bad. 3 The hot buck- 

1 Memoirs of Sir Philip Francis ; vol. i., p. 439. 

2 The salaries are mentioned in various letters of Franklin. The wages 
he quotes from Adam Smith, who, says his biographer, " had been in the 
constant habit of hearing much about the American colonies and their 
affairs, during his thirteen years in Glasgow, from the intelligent merchants 
and returned planters of the city." — Rae's Life of Adam Smith, p. 266. 

8 The bills of fare of a Philadelphian angling club, for the year 1762, 
have been published by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. On June 1 


wheat cakes, the peaches, the great apples, the turkey 
or wild-goose on the spit, and the cranberry sauce stew- 
ing in the skillet, were familiar luxuries in every house- 
hold. Authoritative testimony has been given on this 
point by Brillat Savarin, in his " Physiologie de Gout," — 
the most brilliant book extant on that which, if mankind 
were candid, would be acknowledged as the most uni- 
versally interesting of all the arts. When he was driven 
from his country by the French Revolution, he dined 
with a Connecticut yeoman on the produce of the gar- 
den, the farmyard, and the orchard. There was " a 
superb piece of corned beef, a stewed goose, and a mag- 
nificent leg of mutton, with vegetables of every descrip- 
tion, two jugs of cider, and a tea-service," on the table 
round which the illustrious epicure, the host, and the 
host's four handsome daughters were sitting. For 
twenty years and thirty years past such had been the 
Sunday and holiday fare of a New England freeholder ; 
except that in 1774 a pretty patriot would as soon have 
offered a guest a cup of vitriol as a cup of tea. A mem- 
ber of what in Europe was called the lower class had in 
America fewer cares, and often more money, than those 
who, in less favoured lands, would have passed for his 
betters. His children were taught at the expense of the 
township ; while a neighbour who aspired to give his 
son a higher education was liable to be called on to pay 
a yearly fee of no less than a couple of guineas. And 
the earner of wages was emancipated from the special 
form of slavery which from very early days had estab- 
lished itself in the Northern States, — the tyranny exer- 
cised over the heads of a domestic establishment by 
those whom they had occasion to employ. 1 

the members had " Beefsteaks, six chickens, one ham, one breast of veal, 
two tongues, two chicken-pies, one quarter of lamb, two sheeps' heads, 
peas, salad, radishes, cream-cheese, gooseberry-pies, strawberries, two 
gallons of spirits, and twenty-live lemons ; " and they sate down to no 
worse a dinner in the course of the whole season. 

1 " You can have no idea," Mackrabie wrote to Francis in 1769, " of the 
plague we have with servants on this side the water. If you bring over a 
good one he is spoilt in a month. Those from the country are insolent 
vol. 1. F 


Equality of means, and the total absence of privilege, 
brought about their natural result in the ease, the 
simplicity, the complete freedom from pretension, which 
marked the intercourse of society. The great had once 
been as the least of their neighbours, and the small 
looked forward some day to be as the best of them. 
James Putnam, the ablest lawyer in all America, loved 
to walk in the lane where, as a child of seven years old, 
he drove the cows to pasture. Franklin, while still a 
poor boy living on eighteen pence a week, was sought, 
and almost courted, by the Governor of Pennsylvania and 
the Governor of New York. Confidence in a future, 
which never deceived the industrious, showed itself in 
early marriages ; and early marriages brought numerous, 
healthy, and welcome children. There was no search- 
ing of heart in an American household when a new 
pair of hands was born into the world. The first 
Adams who was a colonist had eight sons, with what- 
ever daughters Heaven sent him ; his eldest son had a 
family of twelve, and his eldest son a family of twelve 
again. Franklin had seen thirteen of his own father's 
children sitting together round the table, who all grew 
up, and who all in their turn were married. " With us," 
he wrote, " marriages are in the morning of life ; our 
children are educated and settled in the world by noon ; 
and thus, our own business being done, we have an after- 
noon and evening of cheerful leisure to ourselves." 

The jolly relative of Philip Francis took a less roseate 
view of the same phenomenon. " The good people," 
he wrote, " are marrying one another as if they had not 
a day to live. I allege it to be a plot that the ladies, 
(who are all politicians in America,) are determined 
to raise young rebels to fight against old England." 
Throughout the colonies the unmarried state was held 

and extravagant. The imported Dutch are to the last degree ignorant and 
awkward." The observations made by this rather narrow-minded Briton 
upon the other nationalities which supplied the household service of 
America had better be read in the original book, if they are read at all. — ■ 
Memoirs of Sir Philip Francis ; vol. i., p. 435. 


in scanty honour. Bachelors, whether in the cities or 
villages, were poorly supplied with consolations and dis- 
tractions. The social resources of New York, even for 
a hospitably treated stranger, were not inexhaustible. 
"With regard," Mackrabie complained, " to the people, 
manner, living, and conversation, one day shows you as 
much as fifty. Here are no diversions at all at present. 
I have gone dining about from house to house, but meet 
with the same dull round of topics everywhere: — lands, 
Madeira wine, fishing parties, or politics. They have a 
vile practice here of playing back-gammon, a noise which 
I detest, which is going forward in the public coffee- 
houses from morning till night, frequently ten or a dozen 
tables at a time. I think a single man in America is 
one of the most wretched beings I can conceive." The 
taverns in country districts were uncomfortable, and, as 
centres of relaxation and sociable discourse, unlovely. 
Adams, who had put up at a hundred of them, com- 
plained that a traveller often found more dirt than enter- 
tainment and accommodation in a house crowded with 
people drinking flip and toddy, and plotting toget the land- 
lord elected to a local office at the next town's meeting. 

In a new country the graces and amenities, — and all 
the provisions for material, intellectual, and what little 
there may be of artistic, pleasure, — are within the home, 
and not outside it. Women in America were already 
treated with a deference which was a sign of the part 
they played in the serious affairs of life. They had not 
to put up with the conventional and over-acted homage 
which in most European countries was then the substi- 
tute for their due influence and their true liberty. Mar- 
ried before twenty, and generally long before twenty, 
they received in the schoolroom an education of the 
shortest, and something of the flimsiest. To work cor- 
nucopias and Birds of Paradise in coloured wools, to 
construct baskets of ornamental shells, and to accompany 
a song on the virginal, the spinet, or the harpsichord, 
were the accomplishments which an American girl had 
time to learn, and could find instructors to teach her. 



But, like the best women in every generation before oui 
own, their most valuable attainments were those which, 
in the intervals of domestic cares, they taught themselves 
with a favourite author in their hand, and their feet on 
the fender. In their literary preferences they were be- 
hindhand in point of time ; but it was not to their loss. 
John Quincy Adams, the second President of his race, 
relates how lovingly and thoroughly his mother knew 
her Shakespeare and her Milton, her Dryden, her Pope, 
and her Addison ; and how, when she was in need of a 
quotation tinctured with modern ideas of liberty, she had 
recourse to Young and Thomson. He well remembered 
the evening when the cannon had fallen silent on Bunker's 
Hill, and Massachusetts began to count her losses. A 
child of eight, he heard Mrs. Adams apply to Joseph War- 
ren, their family friend and family physician, the lines, — 
mannered indeed, and stilted, but not devoid of solemn and 
sincere feeling, — which Collins addressed to the memory 
of a young officer who had been killed at Fontenoy. 

We need not go to sons and husbands for our know- 
ledge of what the matrons of the Revolution were. The 
gentlemen of France, who came to the help of America, 
were quick to discern the qualities which dignified and 
distinguished her women ; and it is to the credit of the 
young fellows that they eagerly admired an ideal of con- 
duct which might have been supposed to be less to the 
taste of a soldier of passage than that which they had 
left behind them at Paris. It is difficult to believe that 
the Knight-errants of the war of American Independence, 
each of them the soul of chivalry, belonged to the same 
nation as certain swashbucklers of Napoleon who, after 
trailing their sabres over Europe, confided to the chance 
reader of their autobiographies their personal successes, 
real or pretended, among beautiful and unpatriotic women 
in the countries which they had visited as invaders. After 
their return home Lafayette and De Segur, courageous 
in the drawing-room as in the field, openly proclaimed 
and steadfastly maintained that in the beauty, elegance, 
and talent of its ladies Boston could hold its own with 


any capital city, that of France included. De Segur, in 
particular, astonished and charmed his hearers by his 
description of a community where what passed as gal- 
lantry in Paris was called by a very plain name indeed ; 
where women of station rode, drove, and walked un- 
attended both in town and country ; where girls of six- 
teen trusted themselves to the escort of a guest who 
yesterday had been a stranger, and talked to him as 
frankly and as fast as if he had been a cousin or a brother ; 
and, above all, where a young Quakeress who, in her 
white dress and close muslin cap, looked, (though he did 
not tell her so,) like a nymph rather than a mortal, lec- 
tured him on having deserted his wife and children to 
pursue the wicked calling of a soldier, and sternly re- 
jected the plea that he had severed himself from all 
that he held most dear in order to fight for the liberty 
of her country. After the war was over, De Segur 
embodied his experience and his observations in a series 
of predictions concerning the future of the United States. 
He clearly foresaw that the question whether the South 
and North were to part company would one day arise in 
a formidable shape ; he foretold that wealth would bring 
luxury, and luxury corruption ; but with regard to that 
private morality which, of all that he found in America, 
he approved the most, he did not venture on a specific 
prophecy. " I shall be told," he wrote, " that America 
will not always preserve these simple virtues and these 
pure manners; but if she preserves them only for a cen- 
tury, that at any rate will be a century gained. 1 


1 Voltaire, an old friend of De Segur's mother, in half a dozen sentences 
full of wisdom and good feeling, and turned as only he could turn them, 
had given him his literary blessing, and the advice to keep to prose. That 
advice was religiously followed by a family which handed down through 
three generations, in unbroken succession from father to son, the good 
traditions of the memoir-writer. There is an extraordinary likeness, in 
form and substance, between the writing of the father, who served in the 
American war, and afterwards became French ambassador to Russia ; of 
the son, who told the story of Austerlitz, and the retreat from Moscow ; and 
of the grandson, author of the Life of Count Rostopchine. Which of the 
three wrote best is a problem of the sort that to those, who love books, will 
always remain the idlest of questions. 



Such was the country, and such the people, on which 
the British Cabinet now tried the experiment of carry- 
ing through a political policy by the pressure of an 
armed force. They were blind to the truth which Byron, 
a genuine statesman, expressed in the sentence, " The 
best prophet of the future is the past; " for that experi- 
ment had never succeeded when an English-speaking 
population was made the subject of it. It had been 
tried under the Commonwealth when the Major-Generals 
administered England ; and the Journal of George Fox, 
read side by side with Hudibras, proves that the saints 
liked being ruled by saints in red coats almost as little 
as did the sinners. It had been tried after the Restora- 
tion, when the Stuarts espoused the cause of the Bishops 
as against the Scotch Covenanters ; and the result was, 
over the whole of the south of Scotland, to kill the cause 
of the Bishops and of the Stuarts too. And in 1688 the 
wrath and terror which the mere threat of coercion by 
an Irish army excited throughout the kingdom did much 
to ruin James the Second, as it had ruined his father be- 
fore him. 

Now the same remedy, fatal always to the physician, 
was applied to a case that differed from those which 
preceded it only in being more hopelessly unsuited to 
such a treatment. The character, the circumstances, 
and the history of the inhabitants of New England made 
it certain that they would feel the insult bitterly and 



resent it fiercely. It was a measure out of which, from 
the very nature of it, no good could be anticipated; and 
it may well be doubted whether the authors of it, in 
their heart of hearts, expected or desired that any good 
should come. The crime of Massachusetts was that she 
refrained from buying British goods, and that she had 
petitioned the Crown in respectful terms. Fifty regi- 
ments could not oblige her to do the one, or make her 
think that she had been wrong in having done the other. 
And, in truth, the action of the British Government was 
intended to punish, and not to persuade. It was a de- 
vice essentially of the same sinister class as the Dragon- 
nades which preceded the Revocation of the Edict of 
Nantes; less trenchant, indeed, in its operation, owing 
to the difference in type of the instruments employed ; 
for British soldiers were too good to be set to such work, 
and far too manly and kind-hearted to do it efficaciously. 
But the motives that suggested and brought about the 
military occupation of Boston showed poorly, in one 
important respect, even by the side of those which actu- 
ated Louis the Fourteenth and his clerical advisers. In 
both cases there was ruffled pride, the determination at 
all costs to get the upper hand, and want of sympathy 
which had deepened down into estrangement and posi- 
tive ill-will. But the French monarch at least believed 
that, by making his subjects miserable in this world, he 
would possibly save their souls in the next, and would 
undoubtedly cleanse his dominions from the stain of 
heresy ; whereas the quarrel between George the Third 
and his people beyond the sea was of the earth, earthy. 
As an Elizabethan poet had said in good prose: " Some 
would think the souls of princes were brought forth by 
some more weighty cause than those of meaner persons. 
They are deceived ; there's the same hand to them ; the 
like passions sway them. The same reason that makes 
a vicar go to law for a tithe-pig, and undo his neigh- 
bours, makes them spoil a whole province, and batter 
down goodly cities with the cannon." 1 

1 Webster's Duchess of Malfi, Act ii., Scene I. 


The King was determined to stand on his extreme 
rights ; and he met his match in the Americans. In 
their case he had to do with people accurately and 
minutely acquainted with what was due to them and 
from them, and little likely to miss, or refrain from 
pressing to the utmost, any single point which told in 
their favour. Burke was informed by an eminent book- 
seller that in no branch of his business, after tracts of 
popular devotion, were so many volumes exported to 
the colonies as those which related to the law. Nearly 
as many copies of Blackstone's Commentaries had been 
sold in America as in England. So eager were the 
colonists to read our treatises on jurisprudence that they 
had fallen into the way of reprinting them across the 
Atlantic ; a habit, it must be allowed, which they soon 
applied on a generous scale to more attractive classes 
of literature. Burke, who observed and investigated 
America with the same passionate curiosity that he 
subsequently bestowed upon India, had arrived at the 
conclusion that a circumstance which made against 
peace, unless the British Government reverted to the 
paths of caution, was to be found in the addiction of 
the colonists to the study of the law. "This study," he 
said, " renders men acute, inquisitive, dexterous, prompt 
in attack, ready in defence, full of resources. In other 
countries the people, more simple, and of a less mercurial 
cast, judge of an ill principle in government only by an 
actual grievance ; there they anticipate the evil, and judge 
of the pressure of the grievance by the badness of the 
principle. They augur misgovernment at a distance, and 
snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze." l 

The times were such that the lawyers in America, 
like all other men there, had to choose their party. In 
the Government camp were those favoured persons 
whom the Crown regularly employed in court, and 
those who held, or looked to hold, the posts of distinc 
tion and emolument with which the colonies abounded ; 

1 Mr. Burke's Speech on moving his Resolution for Conciliation with 
the Colonies. 



for the Bar in America, as in Ireland and Scotland to 
this day, was a public service as well as a profession. 
But, with these exceptions, most lawyers were patriots ; 
for the same reason that, (as the royal Governors com- 
plained), every patriot was, or thought himself, a lawyer. 
The rights and liberties of the province had long been 
the all-pervading topic of conversation in Massachusetts. 
There were few briefs for a learned gentleman who, in 
General Putnam's tavern or over Mr. Hancock's dining- 
table, took the unpopular side in an argument ; espe- 
cially if he did not know how to keep those who came 
to him for advice on the safe side of a penal statute. 
" Look into these papers," said an English Attorney- 
General in 1768, "and see how well these Americans 
are versed in the Crown law. I doubt whether they 
have been guilty of an overt act of treason, but I am 
sure that they have come within a hair's breadth of 
it." 1 Leading merchants, who were likewise eminently 
respectable smugglers on an enormous scale, were the 
best clients of a Boston advocate. Their quarrels with 
the Commissioners of Revenue brought him large fees, 
and coveted opportunities for a display of eloquence. 
His wits as a casuist were sharpened by a life-time of 
nice steering among the intricacies of the commercial 
code ; and the experience which he thence gained 
taught him as a politician to assume higher ground, and 
to demand that trade should be as free and open to Brit- 
ish subjects in the New World as it was to those in the 
Old. 2 His public attitude was stiffened by the recollec- 
tion of a threat which had been levelled against his pri- 
vate interests. A secondary, but an evident and even 
confessed, object of the Stamp Act had been to impose 
an all but prohibitory tax upon the manufacture of legal 
documents, and thereby to injure the practice, and to pare 

1 Bancroft's History, Epoch III., chapter 37. 

2 These are the words of Mr. Sabine in his Historical Essay at the com- 
mencement of his two volumes on the American Loyalists. His descrip- 
tion of the opinions prevalent in the several professions at the commencement 
of the Revolution is amusing and instructive. 


away the gains, of those unofficial lawyers among whom 
were to be found the most skilful and stubborn oppo- 
nents of the Government. 

Already the commercial prosperity of the mother- 
country was grievously impaired. The colonists had 
met Charles Townshend's policy by an agreement not 
to consume British goods ; and the value of such goods 
exported to New England, New York, and Pennsylvania 
fell in a single year from 1,330,000/. to 400,000/. Wash- 
ington, when he sent his annual order for a supply of 
European commodities to London, enjoined his corre- 
spondent to forward none of the articles unless the offen- 
sive Act of Parliament was in the meantime repealed. 
Less scrupulous patriots found reason to wish that they 
had followed his example. Mackrabie relates how two 
Philadelphians had sent over for a Cheshire cheese, and 
a hogshead of English Entire Butt. " These delicacies 
happened unfortunately to have been shipped from 
Europe after the Resolutions on this side had tran- 
spired, and in consequence the Committee took the 
liberty to interfere. The purchasers made a gallant 
stand, but their opposition was in vain. They cursed 
and swore, kicked, and cuffed, and pulled noses ; but 
the catastrophe was that the prisoners were regaled 
with the cheese and porter. They have sent away a 
ship loaded with malt to-day. Nobody could either 
buy or store it." The phraseology of the movement 
against taxation without representation appeared in 
odd places. A mechanic, whose shop had been broken 
open, advertised a reward for the apprehension of the 
thief, and reminded his fellow-citizens how hard it was 
for a man to part with his own property without his 
own consent. It is curious to note that Grenville, as 
the father of the Stamp Act, till his death, and long 
after it, came in for much of the discredit which prop- 
erly belonged to Charles Townshend. " I would not as 
a friend," Mackrabie wrote from Philadelphia, " advise 
Mr. George Grenville to come and pass a summer in 
North America. It might be unsafe." This was in 


1768. But as late as 1773 Edmund Burke, who, of all 
people, had been asked by a friend in Virginia to send 
him out a clever lad accustomed to ride light weights, 
wrote to Lord Rockingham : " If poor George Grenville 
was alive, he would not suffer English jockeys to be 
entered outwards without bond and certificate : or at 
least he would have them stamped or excised, to bear 
the burdens of this poor oppressed country, and to re- 
lieve the landed interest." Ten years later the poets of 
Brooks's Club were still singing of 

"Grenville's fondness for Hesperian gold; 
And Grenville's friends, conspicuous from afar, 
In mossy down incased, and bitter tar." 1 

All the British regiments which had ever sailed from 
Cork or Portsmouth could not force Americans to pur- 
chase British merchandise. Nor was it possible that 
the presence of troops, under a free constitution such as 
Massachusetts still enjoyed, should do anything towards 
the better government of the colony, or the solution of 
the difficulties which had arisen between the Assembly 
and the Crown. One function the soldiers might be 
called upon to discharge ; and it was evidently in the 
minds of the Cabinet which sent them out. As soon as 
the news of their arrival at Boston had reached London, 
the supporters of the Ministry, in manifest concert with 
the Treasury Bench, moved an address to the King 
praying that persons who, in the view of the Governor 
of Massachusetts, had committed, or had failed to dis- 
close, acts of treason might be brought over to England 
and tried under a statute of Henry the Eighth. The 
Ministers themselves moved Resolutions framed with 
the object of indicating for the Governor's guidance 
that, in the action which the Assembly of the colony 
had taken, and in the votes which it had passed, treason 
had already been committed. 

Such a proposal was shocking to many independent 
members of Parliament, and most of all to those who 
knew by experience what a serious matter a voyage from 


America was, even in a case where there would be little 
prospect indeed of a return journey. Thomas Pownall, 
who had governed Massachusetts strongly and discreetly 
during Pitt's great war, was earnest in his remon- 
strances ; and his views were enforced by Captain 
Phipps, afterwards Lord Mul grave, a competent and 
experienced navigator. They commented forcibly on 
the cruelty and injustice of dragging an individual three 
thousand miles from his family, his friends, and his busi- 
ness, " from every assistance, countenance, comfort, and 
counsel necessary to support a man under such trying 
circumstances," in order that, with the Atlantic between 
him and his own witnesses, he might be put to peril of 
his life before a panel of twelve Englishmen, in no true 
sense of the word his peers. Of those jurymen the 
accused colonist would not possess the personal know- 
ledge which alone could enable him to avail himself of 
his right to challenge ; while they on their side would 
infallibly regard themselves as brought together to vin- 
dicate the law against a criminal of whose guilt the 
responsible authorities were fully assured, but who 
would have been dishonestly acquitted by a Boston jury. 
All this was said in the House of Commons, and listened 
to most unwillingly by the adherents of the Ministry, 
who after a while drowned argument by clamour. A 
large majority voted to establish what was, for all intents 
and purposes, a new tribunal, to take cognisance of an 
act which, since it had been committed, had been made 
a crime by an ex post facto decree. Parliament had done 
this in a single evening, without hearing a tittle of 
evidence, and, (after a not very advanced stage in the 
proceedings,) without consenting to hear anything or 
anybody at all. But a House of Commons, which had 
so often dealt with Wilkes and the Middlesex electors, 
had got far beyond the point of caring to maintain a 
judicial temper over matters affecting the rights, the 
liberty, and now at last the lives, of men. 1 

1 The Government were in a bad House of Commons mess. They 
could not produce a copy of the alleged treasonable Resolution of the 


That which was the sport of a night at Westminster 
was something very different to those whom it most 
concerned at Boston. The chiefs of the popular party 
saw the full extent of their danger in a moment. They 
already had done what placed their fortunes, and in all 
probability their very existence, at the mercy of the 
Governor; and, whether the blow fell soon, or late, or 
.not at all, their peace of mind was gone. To poor men, 
as most of them were, transportation to England at the 
best meant ruin. Their one protection, the sympathy 
of their fellow-citizens, was now powerless to save them. 
Time was when Governor Bernard would have thought 
twice before he laid hands on the leaders of public opin- 
ion in a country where the arm of authority was strong 
only when it had public opinion with it. He was not 
likely to forget how, when the populace were hanging 
the Boston stamp distributer in effigy, the civil power 
recpiested that the Militia might be called out by beat of 
drum, and how the colonel replied that his drummers 
were in the mob. To arrest Samuel Adams and John 
Hancock, even with their own concurrence, by the aid 
of such peace officers as cared to respond to a summons, 
was in the view of the Governor a sufficiently arduous 
undertaking. And when the time for their deportation 
came, it would have been a more serious business still 
to march them, through streets crowded with angry 
patriots, clown to a wharf over the a\^c of which the 
crews of half a hundred coasting vessels would have 
tossed the constables, and the sheriff too, with as little 
scruple as they would have run a cargo of sugar on a 
dark night into a creek of Rhode Island. But the 
troops had come, and the ships which had brought them 

Massachusetts Assembly, on which their own proposals were founded. 
Governor Pownall, hacked by Burke, denied that such a Resolution was 
in existence. "The chorus-men, who at proper times call for the question, 
helped them out at this dead lift, by an incessant recitative of the words, 
'Question, question, question.' At length, at four o'clock in the morning, 
the whole House in confusion and laughing, the Resolutions and addresses 
were agreed to." Such is the account given, in expressive, but not very offi- 
cial language, in the Parliamentary History for the 26th of January, 1769. 


were never again likely to be far away ; and that diffi- 
culty was a thing of the past. With a quay commanded 
by the cannon of men-of-war, and a harbour alive with 
their armed boats, and with a forest of bayonets on 
land, there would be no fear of a rescue, or even of a 
riot. All prominent opponents of the Government hence- 
forward lived in the knowledge that their fate was at 
the arbitrary disposal of one whom, as an officer of the 
State, they had braved and baffled ; and who insisted on 
regarding them, each and all, as his private enemies. 
The revival of the old Tudor statute, which kept a hal- 
ter suspended over the neck of every public man whom 
the people of Massachusetts followed and trusted, was 
a device as provocative, and in the end proved to be as 
foolish and as futile, as the operation which in the story 
of our great civil contest is called, not very accurately, 
the Arrest of the Five Members. 

From the day that the troops landed all chance of a 
quiet life, for those who valued it, was over and done 
with. John Adams, who was intent on making a liveli- 
hood, — and who, to use his own words, had very little 
connection with public affairs, and hoped to have less, — 
observed with disapproval that endeavours were being 
systematically pursued " by certain busy characters to 
kindle an immortal hatred between the inhabitants of 
the lower class and the soldiers." But the fact was 
that every class, without any prompting from above or 
below, had its own reasons for disliking the military 
occupation of their city. Boston was a non-official 
community, where no man was under orders, and where 
every man worked every day and all day to get his 
bread by supplying, in one shape or another, the 
natural wants and requirements of the society in which 
he lived. But now the whole place was invaded by 
officialism in its most uncompromising and obtrusive 
form. For every two civilians there was at least one 
wearer of a uniform, whose only occupations were to 
draw his pay, to perform his routine duties, and to obey 


some one who was placed above him. Boston was 
Whig ; and the army, from top to bottom, with few 
exceptions, was ultra-Tory. Charles Lee, who had 
served with distinction up to the rank of colonel in 
a royal regiment, — and with whom royal officers 
lived, and generally continued to live, on free and equal 
terms, — remembered an occasion when a clever and 
spirited subaltern inveighed against David Hume as a 
champion of divine right and absolute monarchy. The 
young man was taken to task by a veteran who rebuked 
him for speaking with irreverence of Charles the First, 
and, with more loyalty than logic, pronounced that such 
sentiments were indecent and ungrateful in those who 
ate the King's bread. 1 That was the creed of the 
mess-room ; ominous enough in the days of a sovereign 
who, now that the Stuarts were no longer a danger to 
himself, was only too ready to take them for his model. 

The social tone of military circles was even more un- 
congenial to the atmosphere of Boston than their politi- 
cal opinions. That tone has been changing tor the better 
ever since, and never so quickly and so steadily as dur- 
ing the period which covers the career of those who now 
command our brigades. The British officer of this gen- 
eration is a picked man to begin with. He enters the 
army at an age when he has already laid the ground of 
a liberal education, and in after life he never misses an 
opportunity of perfecting his professional acquirements. 
In Indian and colonial service he gains a large, and even 
cosmopolitan, view of affairs and men, while he has always 
present to his mind the obligation to maintain the credit 
of the country abroad by his personal conduct and de- 
meanour. And, when employed at home, he is accus- 
tomed to act with the Militia and Volunteers ; to take a 
share in the work of their organisation and their disci- 
pline ; to recognise their merits ; and to make full allow- 
ance for deficiences from which citizen soldiers can never 
be exempt in peace, or in the first campaign of a war. 

It was a different story with an officer whose lot was 

1 Memoirs of ' Major- General Lee ; Dublin, 1792: page 101. 


cast in the third quarter of the eighteenth century. 
When on active service in Germany every one, against 
whom, or by whose side, he fought, was a regular soldier ; 
and, in the case of our Prussian allies, a regular of the 
regulars. When he returned to England, to quarters in 
a Cathedral town, (or, if a guardsman, to his lodging in 
St. James's Street,) he moved in social circles where no 
single person pursued any one of those work-a-day trades 
and callings which in New England ranked as high as 
the very best. With such a training and such associa- 
tions, a man who possessed no more than the average 
share of good sense and good feeling cared little for 
colonial opinion, whether civil or military, and seldom 
went the right way to conciliate it. Pitt did his utmost 
to correct what was amiss ; and, when he could lay his 
hand on a general of the right sort, he did much. Young 
Lord Howe, who led the advance against Ticonderoga 
in 1758, — and who in truth, as long as he was alive, 
commanded the expedition, — tried hard to break down 
the barrier between the two sections of his army by pre- 
cept, and by his fine example. But when he was shot 
dead, skirmishing with Israel Putnam's Rangers in front 
of his own regiment, the Fifty-fifth of the line, he left no 
one behind him, south of the St. Lawrence, who had the 
capacity or inclination to carry out the great Minister's 
wise and large policy. The relations of royal and pro- 
vincial officers became anything but fraternal, and the 
rank and file of the American companies were only too 
ready to espouse the quarrel of their leaders. American 
colonels, during the Ticonderoga campaign, complained 
that they were hardly ever summoned to a council of 
war, and that, until the orders came out, they knew no 
more of what was to be done than the sergeants. The 
men of an American regiment, which was stationed on 
the Hudson, conceived themselves affronted by an Eng- 
lish captain, and nearly half the corps disbanded itself 
and marched off home. An English Quartermaster- 
General, great in nothing but oaths, — whom his own 
Commander-in-Chief described as a very odd man, with 


whom he was sorry to have any concern, — was told by 
a Virginian colonel that he would rather break his sword 
than serve with him any longer. These incidents, when 
brooded over in winter quarters, engendered a dissatis- 
faction which found vent in a heated newspaper con- 
troversy between London and Boston. 

Mr. Parkman, in his fascinating story of " Montcalm 
and Wolfe," as elsewhere throughout his writings, pre- 
serves a carefully measured impartiality of praise and 
blame towards English and French, regular soldiers and 
colonial levies, and even Indians ; though it cannot be 
said that these last gain, either as men or warriors, by 
an unvarnished description. He thus speaks about Brit- 
ish officers : " Most of them were men of family, exceed- 
ingly prejudiced and insular, whose knowledge of the 
world was limited to certain classes of their own country- 
men, and who looked down on all others, whether foreign 
or domestic. Towards the provincials their attitude was 
one of tranquil superiority, though its tranquillity was 
occasionally disturbed by what they regarded as absurd 
pretensions on the part of the colony officers. The pro- 
vincial officers, on the other hand, and especially those 
of New England, being no less narrow and prejudiced, 
filled with a sensitive pride and a jealous local patriotism, 
and bred up in a lofty appreciation of the merits and 
importance of their country, regarded British supercili- 
ousness with a resentment which their strong love for 
England could not overcome." 1 There were faults on 
both sides. But the British officers had the most to 
give ; and, if they had cordially and cheerfully taken 
their cue from spirits as finely touched as those of Wolfe 
and Howe, their advances towards intimacy with their 
American comrades would have been eagerly met and 
their friendship warmly valued. 

If there was so little sense of fellowship between the 
regular army and the colonists during the Seven Years' 
War, when they were serving together in the field against 
a common adversary, it may well be believed that in 1772 

1 Parkman's Montcalm and Wolfe, chapter xxi. 
VOL. I. G 


and 1773 things did not go pleasantly in the streets of 
Boston. The garrison was there, in order to remind the 
city that Britain's arm was long and heavy, and that her 
patience was exhausted. It was a situation without hope 
from the very first ; for it gave no opportunity for the 
play of kindly impulses, and was only too certain to 
bring into prominence the least estimable persons on 
either side. There were men of refinement and good 
education in the British regiments, and on the staff, more 
especially among those of older standing, who would 
gladly have employed their social gifts to mitigate the 
asperity of politics. There were, as the sequel proved, 
some of all ranks and ages who had studied the case of 
the colonists closely enough to question and condemn 
the action of their own Government. And there were 
veterans who had fought the enemies of their country 
bravely all the world over, without being able to hate 
them, and who were still less inclined to be harsh towards 
those whom they regarded as her erring children. But 
the winter of discontent was so severe that Uncle Toby 
himself could not have melted the ice in a Boston par- 
lour. The men of the popular party, and the women 
quite as rigidly, set their faces like flint against any show 
of civility, or the most remote approach to familiarity. 
The best among the officers, forbidden by self-respect to 
intrude where they were not welcome, retired into the 
background, and left the field clear for the operations 
of certain black-sheep of the mess-room, whom the citi- 
zens, in the humour which then prevailed, came not 
unnaturally to look upon as representatives of British 
character and conduct. 

That sort of military man, as readers of the English 
classics know, appeared frequently in the dramas and 
novels of the eighteenth century ; where his self-suffi- 
ciency and impertinence were unsparingly castigated, 
although he was sometimes endowed with a sprightliness 
of which in real life little trace could be found. 1 The 

1 Mrs. Grant of Laggan, who was a strong Loyalist, as a young lady was 
well acquainted with the officers quartered in a neighbouring provincial 


recruiting officer who travelled with Mr. Spectator on his 
return from the visit to Sir Roger de Covcrlcy ; the en- 
sign who insulted Tom Jones ; the captain whom Rod- 
erick Random met in the Bath coach, - - were of a type 
which has now become extinct in our army. But of old 
days that type was much in evidence, as many a quiet 
and inoffensive person everywhere, but especially in the 
colonies, knew to his cost. For, when these gentlemen 
disported themselves in American society, they were in 
the habit of parading a supreme disdain for every one 
who did not wear a uniform. To all such they applied 
indiscriminately the name of " Mohairs," an epithet 
which still rankled in the mind of many a brave man 
after he had worn to tatters more than one uniform 
while fighting against the cause to which the services of 
these reprobates were so great a discredit, and so small 
a gain. 1 In undisturbed times, and in cities against 
which the Government that employed them did not bear 
a grudge, their contempt for civilians found expression 
in acts of buffoonery, the victims of which were cautiously 
but not always judiciously chosen. A Philadelphian 
writer of the period relates the feats of a pair of officers 
who made themselves notorious by a series of practical 
jokes, marked with scanty fun and great impudence, and 
directed against citizens of pacific appearance and occu- 
pations. At length the worst of the two happened to 
mistake his man, and received a lesson which he was 
not likely soon to forget. 

The nature of such pranks, when their perpetrators 

town. "The Royal Americans," she writes, "had been in garrison. 
They were persons of decent morals and a judicious and moderate way 
of thinking, who, though they did not court the society of the natives, 
expressed no contempt for their manners or opinion." 

After a while the place of the Royal Americans was taken by another 
battalion. The officers of the new regiment " turned the plain burghers 
into the highest ridicule, and yet used every artifice to get acquainted 
with them. They wished to act the part of very fine gentlemen ; and the 
gay and superficial in those days were but too apt to take for their model 
the fine gentlemen of the detestable old comedies, which good taste has 
now very properly exploded." 

1 Garden's Revolutionary Anecdotes. 



were sober, gives some faint indication of what they 
permitted themselves in their hours of conviviality ; for 
those were days when to drink more than was good 
for him, — or indeed more than would have been good 
for himself and his neighbours on either side of him, — 
was a duty which no one could decline except a man of 
unusual resolution, or of a grade in the army higher 
than any which these worthies were ever likely to attain. 
Mackrabie, who between 1768 and 1770 was made much 
at home in the garrisons of America, was very candid 
in keeping his brother-in-law informed of the price which 
he paid for the privilege. " We have been most hos- 
pitably and genteelly entertained," he writes from Fort 
Pitt, (as Fort Duquesne had been styled ever since it 
fell into British hands,) "and allowing for the politesse 
a la militaire which obliges us to compound for being 
tin pen enivres at least once a day, we pass our time 
most agreeably." On the fourth of June at New York 
he anticipates that the General, as a matter of course, 
will make all the officers in the town drunk at his house 
in honour of the King's birthday. In another letter he 
gives a description of serenading, as practised in Phila- 
delphia. " The manner is as follows. We with four or 
five young officers of the regiment in barracks drink as 
hard as we can, to keep out the cold, and about mid- 
night sally forth, attended by the band, — horns, clarinets, 
hautboys, and bassoons, — march through the streets, 
and play under the window of any lady you choose to 
distinguish, which they esteem a high compliment." 
In 1770, when feeling was already so hot that a good 
Englishman should have been careful to evince his 
loyalty to the King by courtesy and forbearance tow- 
ards the King's subjects, he was invited to join in 
celebrating St. George's Day at a banquet attended by 
all the native-born Englishmen in the city. "We should 
have had," he writes, "the Governor at our head, but 
that the party was only proposed two days before. 
However, we met at a tavern, stuffed roast beef and 
plum pudding, and got drunk, pour .Vhonneur de St. 


George ; wore crosses, and finished the evening at the 
play-house, where we made the people all chorus ' God 
save the King,' and ' Rule Britannia/ and ' Britons strike 
home,' and such like nonsense, and, in short, conducted 
ourselves with all the decency and contusion usual on 
such occasions." l 

Those manners, unrebuked and even tacitly encour- 
aged in high military quarters, were not likely to win 
back the affections of a community which still walked 
in the footsteps of its early founders. Mr. Thomas 
Hollis, — a learned English antiquary, and an enterpris- 
ing art-collector, who met with the success which falls 
to him who is early in that field, — - had been a munificent 
benefactor to American colleges, and most of all to Har- 
vard. He maintained with the leading scholars and 
divines of America very close relations of friendship, of 
good offices, and, ( whenever the opportunity offered it- 
self,) of hospitality. Indeed, his position in reference to 
New England was very much that of the Proxenus of 
a foreign State in the cities of ancient Greece. He 
knew the colonists of old ; and, if the Ministry had con- 
sulted him, he could have put them into communication 
with informants and advisers of a higher stamp than 
the broken-down office-holders and subsidised news- 
writers who were their confidential correspondents across 
the ocean. " The people of Boston and Massachusetts 
Bay," so Hollis wrote within a month of the day that 
the troops sailed for America, "are, I suppose, take 
them as a body, the soberest, most knowing, virtuous 
people at this time upon earth. All of them hold Revo- 
lution principles, and were to a man, till disgusted by 
the Stamp Act, the staunchest friends to the house of 
Hanover." There was a seriousness, he went on to 
say, in their conversation and deportment which in the 
more ribald public prints had obtained for them the 
appellation of Boston Saints ; and, like the saints of old, 
they now had a taste of persecution. Although physical 

1 Mackrabie to Francis, Fort Pitt, 14th July, 1770 ; New York, 4th June 
1768 ; Philadelphia, 9th March, 1768 ; Philadelphia, 24th April, 177a 


cruelty was absent, they endured something of martyr- 
dom in the moral repugnance created by the license and 
the rioting with which their much-enduring town was 
thenceforward flooded. It is not difficult to imagine the 
feelings of a quiet family, who had never heard music 
outside the church of their own denomination, when they 
were treated to a military serenade after the style of 
Philadelphia ; knowing only too well that, if the ladies 
of the house were suspected by their Whig neighbours 
of liking the entertainment, they might wake up some 
morning to find their front door tarred and feathered. 

For they were not all saints in Boston. In the alleys 
which ran down to the water-side there were as rough 
men of their hands as in any seaport in the world ; 
ardent patriots all of them, (with the exception of a very 
few who took excellent care to keep their sentiments to 
themselves,) and vigilant censors and guardians, after 
their own fashion, of the patriotism of others. Unfor- 
tunately these were the inhabitants of Boston who came 
most closely and frequently in contact with the rank 
and file of the British army. It was a pity that there 
should have been so deep and impassable a gulf of mis- 
understanding between two sets of people who had 
much in common, whose interests were in no point ad- 
verse, and whose attitude of reciprocal enmity was im- 
posed upon them from above. None who are widely 
read in military memoirs, — and there is no nation more 
rich in the journals of privates and non-commissioned 
officers than our own, — can doubt that the men of Min- 
den, like the men of Talavera and Salamanca, were as 
honest, humane, and (under the ordinary temptations 
and trials of military life) as well-conducted soldiers as 
ever carried a sick comrade's knapsack or shared their 
rations with a starving peasant. But they knew very 
well that their presence in Boston was not meant as a 
delicate attention to the city, and that to make them- 
selves disagreeable to its citizens was part of the un- 
written order of the day. Any compunction that they 
might have harboured was soon extinguished by the 


inexorable hostility v hich met them at every step, and 
hemmed them in from every quarter. If they had been 
a legion of angels under Gabriel and Michael they would 
have been just as much, and as little, beloved in Fish 
Street, or in Battery Marsh. Their good qualities were 
denied or travestied, their faults spied out and magni- 
fied. Men who during Pitt's war never tired of stand- 
ing treat with soldiers, now talked of them as idle 
drunkards. If they civilly passed the time of day to a 
woman, she drew herself aside with a shudder. The 
very colour of the cloth in which, in order that America 
might be safe and great, Englishmen had struggled 
through the surf at Louisburg, and clambered up the 
heights of Abraham, was made for them a by-word and 
a reproach. No single circumstance was employed 
with such great injustice, but so much effect, to excite 
disgust and derision as one condition in their professional 
existence which, poor fellows, was no fault of theirs. 
The custom of flogging, (and that punishment, in the 
case of a heavy sentence, might well mean death by the 
most horrible of tortures,) revolted, sometimes beyond 
all power of repression, the humanity of the populations 
among whom our troops were quartered, and of the allies 
with whom they served. This feeling was strong in 
America, where the sense of personal dignity and invio- 
lability was more deeply rooted than in Europe ; and it 
found expression in a savage nickname which, as the 
event showed, a man with a loaded musket in his hand, 
all the more because he was respectable, might find 
himself unable tamely to endure. 1 

1 During the later period of the war a young colonist, hardly more than 
a boy, deserted from Colonel Tarleton's corps in the royal army. He was 
sentenced to a thousand lashes, and died under them. On one occasion 
an American sentinel saw a red coat on the opposite bank of a river, and 
gave the alarm. On closer inspection it was discovered to be the cast-off 
uniform of a British soldier, who had been flogged with such severity that 
" his lacerated back would admit of no covering." 

The shock to the popular sentiment became more intense, as time went 
on, both at home and on the Continent. During the war with Napoleon 
a battalion which had suffered terribly from illness in the West Indies, and 
was going out to suffer terribly at Walcheren, was quartered at Ripon in 


Boston, through its constituted authorities, met the 
invasion with passive, but most effective and irritating, 
resistance. The Colonels called upon the Council to 
house and feed their men. They were reminded that 
under the statute the city was not bound to provide 
quarters or supplies until the barracks in the Castle 
were full ; and the Council and the Colonels alike knew 
that the regiments had been sent, not to defend the 
Castle, (which stood on an island in the Bay,) but to 
occupy and annoy the city. General Gage, the Com- 
mander-in-Chief in America, came on from New York 
to find his soldiers sleeping in tents on the Common, 
with a New England winter rapidly approaching. He 
tried his best to insist that billets should be found for 
them ; but the law was against him, in a country where, 
as he sulkily remarked, the law was studied by every- 
body. There was nothing for it but to hire private 
houses at exorbitant rates, and supply the wants of the 
troops through the agency of the Commissariat, and at 
the expense of the British Treasury. 

The soldiers were now in the heart of the town, with 
nothing to do except to clean their accoutrements ; to 
mount guard in public places which, before they came, 
had been as peaceful as Berkeley Square ; and to pick 
quarrels with the townsmen, who on their side were not 
slow to take up the challenge. Every man fought his 

Yorkshire. A soldier was severely flogged. Several of his comrades fainted 
in the ranks ; and the inhabitants, who had with difficulty been restrained 
by a cordon of sentries from rushing in upon the scene of execution, pelted 
the regiment on the way back to barracks. After Salamanca, as an episode 
of our triumphal entry into Madrid, a culprit received eight hundred lashes, 
inflicted by the strongest drummers and buglers in the brigade. The peo- 
ple of the city crowded about the sufferer, and would have loaded him with 
money if he had been allowed to take it. A German rifleman in the Brit- 
ish service has left an account of the operations near Alicante in 1813. 
"The inhabitants," he says, "had never had an opportunity of witnessing 
an English military punishment, and the flogging of an artilleryman made 
a considerable impression on them. They cut down the fig-tree to which 
he had been tied, and even grubbed up the roots." American Anecdotes, 
vol. i., pp. 74 and 399. The Vicissitudes of a Soldier's Life, by John Green, 
late of the 68th Durham Light Infantry, chapters ii. and x. Adventures oj 
a Young Rifleman ; London, 1826; chapter viii. 


hardest with the weapons which were most familiar to 
him. Samuel Adams argued, in a series of published 
letters, that it was illegal in time of peace, without the 
consent of Parliament, to keep up a standing army ; 
and that Americans, who were not represented in Parlia- 
ment, were therefore suffering under a military tyranny. 
British officers spoke and wrote their minds about the 
treatment to which they had been subjected in conse- 
quence of the hostility of the citizens ; and the Grand 
Jury found bills against them for slandering the city of 
Boston. A captain, who bade his men remember, if a 
hand were laid on them, that they wore side-arms, and 
that side-arms were meant for use, was called upon to 
answer before the tribunals for the words which he had 
uttered. Humbler and ruder people in either camp fol- 
lowed the lead of their superiors ; and during eighteen 
months insult and provocation were rife in the air, and 
the street was seldom free, for long together, from rough 
play which at any moment might turn into bloody work. 
On the evening of the 5th of March, 1770, there came 
a short and sharp encounter between a handful of sol- 
diers and a small crowd, voluble in abuse, and too free 
with clubs and snowballs. There was a sputter of mus- 
ketry, and five or six civilians dropped down dead or dying. 
That was the Boston massacre. The number of killed 
was the same as, half a century afterwards, fell in St. 
Peter's Fields at Manchester. It was not less certain 
that American Independence must result from the one 
catastrophe than that English Parliamentary Reform 
would result from the other ; and in each case the in- 
evitable consequence took just the same period of time 
to become an accomplished fact of history. 

It would be as idle to apportion the shares of blame 
among the immediate actors in the miserable business as 
to speculate on the amount of the responsibility for an 
explosion which attached itself to an artilleryman whose 
officer had sent him into a magazine to fill cartridges 
by the light of an open candle. Of the high parties 
concerned, the popular leaders hastened to put them- 


selves in the right, and to prove that the extemporised 
statesmanship of plain folk might be better than any- 
thing which Privy Councillors, and Lord Chancellors 
present and expectant, had to show. Their first care 
was to get the soldiers out of the town ; and for this 
humane and public-spirited object they availed them- 
selves deftly, and most justifiably, of the apprehension 
aroused in the minds of the British authorities by an 
outburst of wrath such as no American city had hitherto 
witnessed. All that night the drums were rolling, and 
the bells clashing, and the streets resounding with the 
cry of " Town-born, turn out, turn out ! " The popula- 
tion was on foot, armed and angry ; and no one went 
home to bed until the troops had been ordered back to 
barracks, and the captain who had commanded the party 
of soldiers in the fatal affray was in custody of the Sher- 
iff, and under examination before the magistrates. Next 
morning there was a public meeting, attended by almost 
every able-bodied man in Boston, and by the first comers 
of the multitudes which all day long streamed in from 
the surrounding country. There was no bloodshed, no 
outrage, no violence even of language. After a prayer 
for the divine blessing, at which any opponent who 
liked was at liberty to laugh, a committee of citizens 
was gravely chosen, and charged with the duty of pro- 
viding, according to the best of their judgement, for the 
common safety. Samuel Adams, Warren, and Hancock, 
with their colleagues, on the one side, and the Lieutenant- 
Governor surrounded by his Council and the chief officers 
of the Army and Navy on the other, talked it out through 
the livelong day. There were adjournments for the pur- 
pose of affording the representatives of the Crown an 
opportunity to confer privately among themselves, and 
of enabling the delegates to make their report to the 
people, who sate in continuous session, or stood over 
the whole space between their own hall of meeting and 
the State-house in vast and ever-increasing numbers. It 
was a hard tussle ; but fresh arguments, which required 
no marshalling or commenting, were coming in from 


the neighbouring townships by hundreds every hour. 
The ominous prospect of the night, which was likely 
to follow such a day, clenched the discussion ; and just 
before dark a promise was given that the whole military 
force should be removed to the Castle, and three miles 
of salt water should be placed between the troops and 
the townspeople. 

Danger to public peace was for the moment averted ; 
but there still remained a matter which touched the 
public reputation. The soldiers who had pulled the 
triggers were to be tried for their lives ; and Captain 
Preston, who had ordered them to fire without the sanc- 
tion of a civil magistrate, would have been in peril even 
if local opinion had been neutral or quiescent. Moved 
by a happy inspiration, he applied to John Adams and 
Josiah Quincy to defend him. Quincy was a young 
man, eloquent for liberty, who had begun to play a 
great part when his career was cut short by death at 
the exact point when the war of words passed into the 
war of bullets. 1 His father, whom he loved and re- 
spected, wrote to dissuade him from accepting the brief, 
in terms of vehement remonstrance. The reply, it has 
been truly said, was in the vein which sometimes raises 
the early annals of the American Revolution above the 
ordinary level of history. "To inquire my duty," the 
son wrote, " and to do it, is my aim. I dare affirm that 
you and this whole people will one day rejoice that I 
became an advocate for the aforesaid criminals, charged 
with the murder of our fellow-citizens." Adams, some 
years the older, and with more to lose, had the watchful 
and jealous eyes of an exasperated people fixed on him 
with concentrated intensity. Long afterwards, at the 
age of eighty-two, he wrote in answer to the inquiry of 
a friend : " Nothing but want of interest and patronage 
prevented me from enlisting in the army. Could I have 
obtained a troop of horse or a company of foot, I should 
infallibly have been a soldier. It is a problem in my 

1 Adams heard the news of Josiah Quincy's death on the 30th April, 
1775, eleven days after Lexington. 


mind, to this day, whether I should have been a coward 
or a hero." As far as physical danger went he showed, 
on more than one occasion, that he could not resist the 
temptation of a fight even at times when his first duty 
towards his country was to keep himself alive and whole. 
And as regards moral courage, no finer proof was ever 
given than when he undertook the defence of Captain 
Preston, and secured a verdict of acquittal by the exer- 
cise of an enormous industry and the display of splendid 
ability. 1 

A trial so conducted, and with such a result, was a 
graceful and a loyal act on the part of the colony ; and 
the mother-country should not have been behindhand 
to meet it in the same spirit. The moment was emi- 
nently favourable for an entire and permanent recon- 
ciliation. On the very day that the shots were fired at 
Boston, Lord North, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
rose in the House of Commons to move the repeal of 
the duties levied in America under Charles Townshend's 
Act, with the solitary exception of the duty upon tea. 
The maintenance of that impost had caused a division of 
opinion in the Cabinet, as acute and defined as ever took 
place without then and there breaking up a Ministry. 
The Duke of Grafton, who still was the titular Head of 
the Government, had only just arrived at the age when 
the modern world begins to look for political discretion 
in a public man. His fatal luck had made him Prime 
Minister at thirty, with the training of a London rake ; 
and he was married most unhappily, though not worse 
than he at the time deserved. He had been a novice in 
statecraft under a royal master who had a policy, while he 
himself had none. For the crown of his misfortune, his 

1 John Adams was very poorly repaid either by his professional gains, or 
in the shape of gratitude from the Royalist party. " Nineteen guineas," he 
wrote, " were all the fees I ever received for a whole year of distressing 
anxiety, and for thirteen or fourteen days of the hardest labour in the 
trials that I ever wer i; through. Add to all this the taunts, and scoffs, 
and bitter reproache c of the Whigs ; and the giggling and tittering of the 
Tories, which was n ;re provoking than all the rest." 


faults and follies were denounced to his contemporaries, 
and blazoned forth for the wonder of posterity, by two 
past masters in the art of invective. Grafton's critic in 
Parliament was Edmund Burke, the greatest man of 
letters who has given all his best literary powers to 
politics. And in the public press he was assailed by 
Junius, as keen a politician as ever employed literature 
for the instrument of his righteous indignation. 

The lesson was sharp. Grafton had taken it to 
heart, and was now intent on shaking off his old self, 
and doing what he could to redeem his unhappy past. 
His reputation in the eyes of history was already beyond 
mending. Burke and Junius had seen to that. But it 
was open for him to clear his conscience ; and he now 
took the first step towards that end, the importance of 
which he was man enough to estimate at its true value. 
He earnestly recommended the Cabinet to sacrifice a 
trumpery tax which brought into the Treasury a net 
yearly income of three hundred pounds. The retention 
of it cost the country, directly, at least five thousand times 
as much money on account of the refusal on the part of 
the colonies to purchase British products ; and indirectly, 

— in the shape of distrust and ill-will, scandals and dis- 
turbances, military preparations and national dangers, 

— an account was being run up on the wrong side of the 
ledger, the ultimate total of which no man could calculate. 
He was supported by every member of the Cabinet 
whose character stood high, or who had served with 
distinction in civil life, in the field, or on deep water. 
Lord Camden was with Grafton ; and so were General 
Conway and Lord Granby. The famous admiral, Sir 
Edward Hawke, kept away by illness, would other- 
wise have voted on the same side. Against him were 
the Lords Rochford, and Gower, and Weymouth, and 
Hillsborough, — a list of personages who, (except that 
some of them were noted as hard-livers in a generation 
when such pre-eminence was not easily achieved,) have 
been preserved from oblivion by the mischief which on 
this unique occasion they had the opportunity of doing. 


Shelburne had already been driven from the Ministry, 
or Grafton would have carried the day ; but the casting 
vote now lay with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and 
he gave his voice for retaining the tax out of deference 
to the King, and against his own view of his own duty. 

George the Third had dictated North's line of action ; 
but North had to explain it himself in Parliament. On 
the necessity of reconciling America he spoke cogently, 
and with a depth of feeling which impressed his audi- 
ence. Then he approached the ungracious part of his 
task, and defended the continuation of the Tea-duty 
perfunctorily, and far from persuasively. Conway ar- 
gued for the repeal of the entire Act, as did Barre and 
Sir William Meredith. All men of sense were united 
in thinking that it was the occasion for a complete and 
final settlement, and not for a compromise. George 
Grenville exposed, in trenchant terms, the folly and in- 
consequence of a course for which, though he was re- 
garded on both sides of the ocean as the apostle of 
colonial taxation, he flatly refused to stultify himself by 
voting. At one moment it looked as if the House of 
Commons would take the matter into its own hands, 
and would inflict on the Ministers a defeat most accept- 
able to all members of the government who had any 
notion how to govern ; but, when the division came, the 
Tea-duty was retained by a majority of sixty-two. The 
King's Friends had been duly warned, and primed, and 
mustered to do the King's work ; and never did they 
more richly earn the unanimity of condemnation which 
has been awarded to them by historians whose verdict 
has weight and whose names are held in honour. 

The concession was partial and grudging ; but the 
good effect which, even so, it produced showed that a 
frank and unstinted renunciation of claims which were 
hateful to America, and worse than unprofitable to Eng- 
land, would have reunited the two countries in sincere 
and lasting friendship. New York, which had observed 
her engagement to exclude British goods more faithfully 
than any other colony, and whose trade had suffered in 


proportion, now withdrew from the agreement, and 
sent orders home for all sorts of merchandise, except 
tea. On New Year's day, 1771, Dr. Cooper wrote to 
Franklin from Boston : " You will hear, before this 
reaches you, of the acquittal of Captain Preston and the 
soldiers concerned in the action of the 5th of March. 
Instead of meeting with any unfair or harsh treatment, 
they had every advantage that could possibly be given 
them in a court of justice. The agreement of the mer- 
chants is broken. Administration has a fair opportu- 
nity of adopting the mildest and most prudent measures 
respecting the colonies, without the appearance of being 
threatened and drove." At home the Ministry would 
have been cordially supported in a policy of indulgence 
and consideration by the commercial men of the entire 
Kingdom ; and with good reason ; for the very best 
which possibly could be done for British commerce was 
to leave well alone. Jealousy of America was the senti- 
ment of politicians who thought that they understood 
trade better than the traders themselves, and was not 
shared by men who knew business from the inside, and 
who lived by the pursuit of it. Burke was a man of 
business in every respect, except that he applied his 
knowledge and insight to the profit of the nation instead 
of his own. It had been finely said that he worked as 
hard and as continuously at commercial questions as if 
he was to receive a handsome percentage on the com- 
merce of the whole Empire. He now replied, with 
crushing force, to the chief of the amateur economists 
whose happiness was poisoned by the fear of American 
competition. 1 " He tells us that their seas are covered 
with ships, and their rivers floating with commerce. 

1 Observations on a late publication intitled " The Present State of the 
Nation, ,} 1769. The motto to Burke's pamphlet, taken from Ennius, was 
happily chosen. 

"O Tite, si quid ego adjuvero, curamque levasso, 
Quae nunc te coquit, et versat sub pectore fixa, 
Ecquid erit pretii?" 

Titus was Mr. George Grenville. 


This is true ; but it is with o?ir ships that the seas are 
covered, and their rivers float with British commerce. 
The American merchants are our factors ; all, in reality ; 
most, even in name." According to Burke, the Ameri- 
cans traded, navigated, and cultivated with English cap- 
ital, working for the profit of Englishmen, and taking 
nothing for themselves, " except the peculium, without 
which even slaves will not labour." 

In the production and fabrication of goods it was not 
a question of rivalry, but of a practical monopoly for 
British mills and foundries which nothing could break 
down ; unless the meddling of British public men should 
irritate the colonists into taking measures to supply 
their own wants by their own industry. The colonies, 
according to Franklin, possessed no manufactures of 
any consequence. " In Massachusetts a little coarse 
woollen only, made in families for their own wear. 
Glass and linen have been tried, and failed. Rhode 
Island, Connecticut, and New York much the same. 
Pennsylvania has tried a linen manufactory, but it is 
dropped, it being imported cheaper. There is a glass 
house in Lancaster County, but it makes only a little 
coarse ware for the country neighbours. Maryland is 
clothed all with English manufactures. Virginia the 
same, except that in their families they spin a little cot- 
ton of their own growing. South Carolina and Georgia 
none. All speak of the dearness of labour, that makes 
manufactures impracticable." That was the state of 
things before the non-importation agreement. After it 
had been in force a year, a single town in Massachu- 
setts had made eighty thousand pairs of women's shoes, 
and was sending them to the Southern colonies, and even 
to the West Indies. 1 Franklin never wearied of preach- 
ing that advantageous circumstances will always secure 
and locate manufactures, so long as things are allowed 
to take and keep their natural course. " Sheffield," he 
exclaimed, " against all Europe these hundred years 
past!" And it would have been Sheffield, and Man- 

1 Franklin Correspondence ; March 13, 1768, and August 3, 1769. 


Chester, and Burslem, and Birmingham against all 
Europe, and against all America too, long enough for 
every living manufacturer, who had his wits about him, 
to make his fortune, if only George the Third and his 
Ministers had known when and where it was wise to do 
nothing. The satisfaction with which Englishmen, who 
had a business connection with America, regarded a sit- 
uation which, as far as their own interests were con- 
cerned, nothing could improve, was clearly indicated by 
the dead silence into which, on this side of the Atlantic, 
the American controversy had fallen. During the whole 
of 1 77 1, and the two following years, no debate on any 
matter connected with that question is reported in the 
Parliamentary History of England. 1 The Historical 
Summary in the "Annual Register" for 1773 gives to 
America less than a single column of printed matter. 
In the Historical Summary for 1775 American affairs 
fill a hundred and forty-two out of a hundred and fifty- 
eight pages. 

It was not otherwise beyond the water. The colonies 
generally acquiesced in an arrangement under which 
they enjoyed present tranquillity, even though it was 
founded on the admission of a principle containing the 
germ of future discord. New England was no exception. 
"The people,'' wrote Mr. Johnson of Connecticut, a 
trustworthy and cool-headed servant of the public, 
" appear to be weary of their altercations with the 
mother-country. A little discreet conduct on both sides 
would perfectly re-establish that warm affection and re- 
spect towards Great Britain for which this country was 
once so remarkable." Even with regard to Massa- 
chusetts the Governor, who made the worst of every- 
thing, reported in September 1771 that there was a 
disposition to let the quarrel subside. 

But one perennial source of discomfort and disorder 
remained in full operation. The Revenue laws were in 

1 In the session of 1772, (to be quite accurate,) during the progress of 
the Annual Mutiny Bill through the House of Commons a few words were 
said about Courts-martial in America. 

VOL. I. H 


those days ill obeyed, and worse liked, all the Empire 
over; and it was extremely difficult to enforce them. 
Communication by land and sea was not on system ; 
and traffic and travel were conducted along numerous 
and ever-varying channels by the agency of rough and 
ready men. The police was insufficient, and badly 
organised ; and, above all, the State, when demanding 
its dues, had the mass of the community against it. 
From the peers and members of Parliament who walked 
ashore at Dover, with three embroidered suits of silk 
and satin worn one inside another, down to the poor 
wives in the Kent and Sussex villages who drank their 
smuggled Dutch tea laced with smuggled French brandy, 
the Custom-house had no partisans, and few contributors 
except under stern compulsion. Nobody had a good 
word for it except honest or timid traders whose market 
was spoiled by illicit dealing ; or moralists who preached 
abstinence from smuggling as a counsel of perfection, 
the observance of which placed a man out of the reach 
of temptation to graver crimes. The position is clearly 
laid down by Franklin. " There are those in the world 
who would not wrong a neighbour, but make no scruple 
of cheating the King. The reverse, however, does not 
hold ; for whoever scruples cheating the King will cer- 
tainly not wrong his neighbour." 

In the three kingdoms practice was everywhere lax ; 
while in many districts the population lived by smug- 
gling as generally, and almost as openly, as Lancashire 
lived by spinning. The Mr. Holroyd, who was after- 
wards Lord Sheffield, complained to Arthur Young in 
1 77 1 that want of hands cramped the agriculture of 
Sussex. " All the lively able young men are employed 
in smuggling. They can have a guinea a week as riders 
and carriers without any risk. Therefore it is not to 
be expected that they will labour for eight shillings." 
Lord Holland's country seat lay between Broadstairs 
and Margate, across the top of a pathway which led 
from the beach of a convenient inlet between two chalk 
headlands. A party of coastguardsmen inhabit the house, 


now that they are less wanted. According to George 
Selwyn, all Lord Holland's servants were professed 
smugglers ; and Selwyn's own servant made a profit by 
taking contraband goods off their hands. Lord Carlisle 
sate on a special Commission as the representative of his 
country at a moment when she was going into war with 
half the civilized world because the Americans would not 
pay the Tea-duty. Not many years before his Lordship's 
town-mansion had been beset by Custom-house officers. 
It appeared that Lady Carlisle's chairman, like the rest 
of his fraternity, used to employ his leisure, when the 
London season was over and he was no longer on duty 
between the poles, in landing tea surreptitiously from 
the ships in the river. 1 Lord Dartmouth had a corre- 
spondent in Cornwall who from time to time gave him 
information about what was going on in a part of the 
world which lay a great deal nearer home than the shores 
of Maine and New Hampshire. " I am concerned in 
the wine trade," this gentleman wrote, " and between 
myself and partners we have a considerable capital in 
the trade ; but on account of the smuggling on every 
side of us, and our rivals in trade doing such things as 
I trust our consciences ever will start back from with 
abhorrence, we hardly make common interest of our 
money." Lisbon wine, he goes on to say, which no 
honest merchant could import at less than four shillings 
a gallon, was sold throughout the county for half a 
crown. Rum, which had paid duty, did not reimburse 
the importer at less than nine shillings ; but everybody 
who wanted to drink it was able to buy it at five. The 
tobacconists would purchase, with circumstances of great 
ostentation, one pound of duty-paid tobacco, and under 
cover of that transaction would sell twenty pounds which 
had been smuggled over from Guernsey. 

The officers of the Revenue were overmatched by sea 
and land. Sixty horses, each carrying a hundredweight 
and a half of tea, had been seen traversing Cornwall 

1 Historical Manuscripts Commission; Fifteenth Report, Appendix, 
Part VI. ; pp. 273 and 297 of the Carlisle Papers. 

H 2 


in bright moonlight to supply the wants of Devonshire. 
When conveying their goods across country the contra- 
band traders did the law so much compliment as to 
confine their operations to the night; but any hour of 
the day was a business hour for the large Irish wher- 
ries, (as they then were called,) which infested the Cor- 
nish coast. A Revenue cutter stationed to the south of 
Tintagel Head was chased by one of these smugglers. 
The King's vessel took refuge in Padstow harbour, and 
her adversary hang out a flag, and fired a salvo of seven 
guns in honour of the victory. That was the condition 
of an English county which had forty-four representa- 
tives in Parliament to look after its interests and its pro- 
prieties. It was almost pharisaical for Ministers, with 
such a state of things at their own doors, to maintain 
that public morality demanded of them to set fleets and 
armies in motion because the Revenue was defrauded, 
and its officers flouted, in half-settled regions on the out- 
skirts of the Empire. 1 

It cannot of course be denied that in America, and 
most of all in New England, enmity to the claims of the 
Revenue was active and universal. The origin of that 
enmity lay far back in history. It has been observed 
by. a writer, who knew his subject well, that the part 
which the merchants and shipowners of the Northern 
colonies played in the contest with the home Govern- 
ment has been understated both as regards the impor- 
tance of their action, and the breadth and justice of the 
motives by which it was inspired. 2 They had been born 
into the inheritance of a cruel wrong, which was more 
deeply felt as the forces that govern trade came to be 
better understood, and in some cases were for the first 
time discoveredo Cromwell, with an insight beyond his 

1 William Rawlins to the Earl of Dartmouth, August 26, 1765, from 
St. Columb. Again, from the same to the same, April 24, 1775, from 
Padstow. Historical Manuscripts Commission ; Fifteenth Report, Ap- 
pendix, Part I. 

2 Loyalists 0/ Ike American Revolution, by Lorenzo Sabine, vol. i., pp. 3 
to 14. 


age, had refused to fetter and discourage the infant com- 
merce of America ; and under the Commonwealth that 
commerce grew fast towards prosperous maturity. But 
a Stuart was no sooner on the throne than the British 
Parliament entered on a course of selfish legislation 
which killed the direct maritime trade between our de- 
pendencies and foreign ports, and, (to borrow the words 
of an eminent historian,) deliberately crushed every form 
of colonial manufacture which could possibly compete 
with the manufactures of England. 1 

The traditional resentment against such injustice, kept 
alive by the continuing and ever-increasing material in- 
jury which it inflicted, arrayed men of all classes, creeds, 
and parties in opposition to the interests of the Excheq- 
uer, and to the officers by whom those interests were 
guarded. A gentleman of New York says, in a letter 
written shortly after the American Revolution broke out : 
" I fix all the blame of these proceedings on the Presby- 
terians. You would ask whether no Church of England 
people were among them. Yes, there were ; to their 
eternal shame be it spoken. But in general they were 
interested either as smugglers of tea, or as being over- 
burdened with dry goods they knew not how to pay 
for." 2 Thomas Hancock, — the uncle of John Hancock, 
to whom, oblivious of political divergences, he left most 
of his property, — was an ardent royalist and a declared 
Tory. He was reputed to be worth that comfortable 
amount of money which his contemporaries, in the 
phrase used by Pope and Arbuthnot, still called a plum. 
Hancock had made the better part of his fortune by im- 
porting contraband tea from Holland, and supplying it 
to the mess-tables of the army and navy. Considering 
that it was to people holding his political opinions that 

1 Mr. Lecky, in the twelfth chapter of his History, treats of the commer- 
cial relations between England and the American colonies. Within the 
compass of four pages he gives a description of their character and conse- 
quences which is clear, full, and unanswerable. 

2 American Archives, prepared and published under authority of an 
Act of Congress. The letter is dated May 31, 1774. 


the Crown lawyers would resort if they had occasion to 
pack a jury, it is not difficult to compute their chances 
of securing a conviction on a charge of evading the 
Revenue. Whenever a gauger or tide-waiter was found 
tripping, the Court-house overflowed in every quarter 
with triumphant emotion. About the period of Preston's 
trial, John Adams argued a suit for a penalty against a 
Custom-house officer for taking greater fees than those 
allowed by law : and, in his own estimation, he argued 
it very indifferently. He won his case ; and in the 
enthusiasm of the moment, somewhat to his amusement 
and yet more to his disgust, he was overwhelmed with 
assurances that he had outdone all his own previous 
efforts, and would thenceforward rank as an equal 
of the greatest orator that ever spoke in Rome or 

For ten years past, ever since George Grenville's 
influence began to be felt in the distant parts of the 
Empire, the claims of the Revenue had been enforced 
with unwonted rigour, which in the summer of 1771 
assumed an aggressive and exasperating character. 
Sandwich, who had succeeded Hawke at the Admiralty, 
had appointed an officer with his own surname, and, 
(as it is superfluous to state,) of his own party, to com- 
mand the powerful squadron now stationed in American 
waters. Admiral Montagu, who came fresh from hear- 
ing the inner mind of the Bedfords as expressed in the 
confidence of the punch-bowl, was always ready to make 
known his opinion of New England and its inhabitants 
in epithets which, on a well-ordered man-of-war, were 
seldom heard abaft the mast. In comparison with him, 
(so it was said,) an American freeholder, living in a 
log-house twenty feet square, was a well-bred and polite 
man. To make matters worse, the Admiral's lady was 
as much too fine as the Admiral himself was coarse. 
"She is very full," wrote Adams, "of her remarks at 
the assembly and the concert. ' Can this lady afford 
the jewels and dresses she wears ? ' ' Oh, that my son 
should come to dance with a mantua-maker ! ' " Between 


them they encouraged, in those officers whom their ex- 
ample swayed, a tone of arrogance and incivility foreign 
indeed to a noble service. 1 

The Navy, like every profession, has its bad bargains ; 
and the lieutenant in command of the schooner Gaspee, 
which was watching the coast of Rhode Island, set him- 
self to the task of translating the language used on the 
quarter-deck of the flagship into overt acts. He stopped 
and searched vessels without adequate pretext, seized 
goods illegally, and fired at the market boats as they 
entered Newport harbour. He treated the farmers on 
the islands much as the Saracens in the Middle Ages 
treated the coast population of Italy, cutting down their 
trees for fuel, and taking their sheep when his crew 
ran short of fresh meat. The injured parties made their 
voices heard ; and the case was laid before the Admiral, 
who approved the conduct of his subordinate officer, 
and announced that, as sure as any people from New- 
port attempted to rescue a vessel, he would hang them 
as pirates. It was a foolish answer as addressed to 
men who were not long-suffering, nor particular as to 
their methods of righting a grievance ; and they resolved 
that, if it came to a hanging matter, it should be for a 
sheep, and not for a lamb. At the first convenient 
opportunity they boarded the royal schooner, set the 
crew on shore, and burned the vessel to the water's 
edge. A terrible commotion followed. Thurlow, in his 
capacity as Attorney-General, denounced the crime as 

1 The Admiral's appearance was milder than his language. Philip 
Freneau, in a satirical Litany, prayed to be delivered 

" From groups at St. James's, who slight our petitions, 
And fools that are waiting for further submissions ; 
From a nation whose manners are rough and abrupt ; 
From scoundrels and rascals whom gold can corrupt ; 
From pirates sent out by command of the King 
To murder and plunder, but never to swing ; 
From hot-headed Montagu, mighty to swear, 
The little fat man with his pretty white hair." 

It was believed in America that Sandwich and the Admiral were brothers; 
and the story, in that shape, has got into history. 


of a deeper dye than piracy, and reported that the 
whole business was of five times the magnitude of the 
Stamp Act. By a Royal order in Council the authori- 
ties of Rhode Island were commanded to deliver the 
culprits into the hands of the Admiral, with a view of 
their being tried in London. But before the crew of 
a Providence fishing-boat could be arraigned at the Old 
Bailey, and hanged in chains in the Essex marshes, 
they had first to be got out of Narragansett Bay ; and 
Stephen Hopkins, the old Chief Justice of Rhode Island, 
refused to lend his sanction to their arrest in face of the 
destiny which awaited them. Admiral Montagu himself, 
right for once, acknowledged that British Acts of Parlia- 
ment, — at any rate such Acts as the revived statute of 
Henry the Eighth, — would never go down in Amer- 
ica unless forced by the point of the sword. And 
the estimable and amiable Dartmouth, who now was 
Secretary of the Colonies, contrived to hush up a diffi- 
culty which, as he was told by a wise and friendly 
correspondent, if it had been pressed to an extreme 
issue, " would have set the continent into a fresh 
flame." 1 

It was too much to expect that Sandwich and Thurlow 
would sit quiet under their defeat. There was no use 
in having the law, good or bad, on their side if those 
who interpreted and administered it in America were 
independent of their influence and dictation. The mem- 
bers of that Cabinet were never slow to make up a 
prescription for anything which they regarded as a dis- 
ease in the body politic ; and, as usual, they tried it first 
on Massachusetts. It was arranged that her judges 
should henceforward have their salaries paid by the 
Crown, and not by the Colony. Samuel Adams dis- 
cerned the threatening nature of the proposal itself, and 
foresaw the grave perils involved in the principle which 
lay beneath it. At his instigation the patriots of Boston 

1 Dartmouth Correspondence ; August 29, 1772, and June 16, 1773. 
Historical Manuscripts Commission ; Fourteenth Report, Appendix, 
Part X. 


invited all the townships of the province to establish 
Committees of Correspondence for the purpose of guard- 
ing their chartered rights, and adjured every legislative 
body throughout America to aid them in repelling an 
invasion which, if it succeeded in their own case, un- 
doubtedly would be directed in turn against all their 
neighbours. Massachusetts rose to the call ; and the 
Assembly of Virginia, with the political instinct which 
seldom misled it, took prompt and courageous action; 
but in other quarters the response was neither hearty 
nor universal. The spirit which had defeated the Stamp 
Act could not be aroused at short notice and on a partial 
issue ; and friends and adversaries alike knew that the 
threatened colony, if things came to the worst, must be 
prepared to rely mainly upon herself. 

There was, however, good reason to doubt whether 
the mother-country was in the temper to fight so paltry 
a matter to such a bitter end. England, outside Parlia- 
ment and within it, was tired of bullying and coercing 
men who after all were Englishmen, whose case rested 
on honoured English precedents, and was asserted and 
maintained by honest English methods. Never was a 
community, (as the men of Massachusetts pathetically 
complained,) so long and so pitilessly assailed with 
malicious abuse as theirs had been during the past two 
years by enemies in London and within their own 
borders. The reaction now set in ; and a large and 
increasing section of the English nation watched with 
respect, and often with sympathy, a resistance con- 
ducted on strict constitutional lines to that which, even 
as seen from England, looked very like a deliberate 
system of small-minded and vexatious tyranny. In 
July 1773, Franklin addressed a letter from London to 
Thomas Cushing, then Speaker of the Massachusetts 
Assembly. "With regard," he said, "to the sentiments 
of people in general here concerning America, I must 
say that we have among them many friends and well- 
wishers. The Dissenters are all for us, and many 
of the merchants and manufacturers. There seems to 


be, even among the country gentlemen, a growing sense 
of our importance, a disapprobation of the harsh meas- 
ures with which we have been treated, and a wish that 
some means might be found of perfect reconciliation." 

Under such circumstances it would have seemed im- 
possible that a Ministry could rise to such a height of 
perverted ingenuity as to deliver Massachusetts from 
her isolation ; to unite all the colonies in sudden, hot, 
and implacable disaffection towards the Crown ; and to 
drive them into courses which would shock the pride 
and alienate the good-will of England. But even that 
feat proved to be within the resources of statesmanship. 
Foremost among the questions of the day at Westmin- 
ster was the condition of the East India Company, which 
now stood on the verge of bankruptcy. The home Gov- 
ernment came forward handsomely with a large loan on 
easy terms, and a pledge not to insist on an annual trib- 
ute of four hundred thousand pounds which India had 
somehow contrived to pay, in spite of her deficits, into the 
British exchequer. But, over and above these palliatives, 
the Cabinet had at its disposal the means of relieving the 
famous Corporation from all its embarrassments. There 
lay stored in the warehouses tea and other Indian goods 
to the value of four millions, which had been in course 
of accumulation ever since the Company, not by its own 
fault, had lost a most promising customer. The Ameri- 
can colonies, making a protest against their fiscal wrongs 
in a form which had its attractions for a thrifty people, 
had supplied themselves with smuggled tea from France, 
Denmark, Sweden, and especially from Holland ; and 
those foreign merchants who had been tempted into the 
trade soon learned to accompany their consignments of 
tea with other sorts of Oriental produce. The Custom- 
house officers reckoned that Indian goods, which paid 
nothing to the Treasury and brought no profit to the 
Company, found their way into America to the amount 
of half a million in money every twelvemonth. 

The opportunity was golden, and without alloy. If 
Ministers could bring themselves to adopt the sugges- 


tion made by the East Indian Directors, and advise a 
willing House of Commons to repeal the Tea-duty, they 
would, by one and the same straightforward and easy 
operation, choke up the underground channels along 
which commerce had begun to flow, pacify the colonies, 
and save the East India Company. The demand of the 
American market for tea was already enormous. The 
most portable and easily prepared of beverages, it was 
then used in the backwoods of the West as lavishly as 
now in the Australian bush. In more settled districts 
the quantity absorbed on all occasions of ceremony is 
incredible to a generation which has ceased to rejoice 
and to mourn in large companies, and at great cost. 
The legislative assembly of more than one colony had 
passed sumptuary laws to keep the friends of the de- 
ceased from drinking his widow and orphans out of 
house and home ; and whatever the gentlemen, who 
drove and rode in to a funeral from thirty miles round, 
were in the habit of drinking, the ladies drank tea. 
The very Indians, in default of something stronger, 
took it twice a day; 1 and however much attached they 
might be to their Great Father beyond the water, it 
must not be supposed that they made special arrange- 
ments in order to ensure that he had been paid his dues 
on the article which they consumed. If only the Chan- 
cellor of the Exchequer, with a few heartfelt sentences 
of frank retractation and cordial welcome, had thrown 
completely open the door of the Custom-house which 
already was ajar, all would have been well, then and 
thereafter. Before Parliament was many sessions older, 
America, (after a less questionable fashion than the 
expression, when used in an English budget speech, 
usually implies,) would have drunk the East India Com- 
pany out of all its difficulties. 

A course which went direct to the right point was not 
of a nature to find favour with George the Third and 
his Ministers. They adopted by preference a plan 
under which the East India Company was allowed a 

1 Dartmouth Correspondence ; January 19, 1 773. 


drawback of the whole Tea-duty then payable in Eng- 
land, while the Exchequer continued to claim the three- 
pence on the pound which was paid, (or, to speak more 
exactly, left unpaid,) in America. Their object was 
such as every one who ran a boatload of smuggled 
goods between Penobscot Bay, and the mouth of the 
Savannah River, could read. This wise scheme, (so 
Franklin put it,) was to take off as much duty in Eng- 
land as would make the Company's tea cheaper in 
America than any which foreigners could supply ; and 
at the same time to maintain the duty in America, and 
thus keep alive the right of Parliament to tax the colo- 
nies. " They have no idea," he wrote, " that any people 
can act from any other principle but that of interest ; 
and they believe that threepence in a pound of tea, of 
which one does not perhaps drink ten pounds in a 
year, is sufficient to overcome all the patriotism of an 

They were not long in finding out their mistake. The 
King, (so North stated,) meant to try the question with 
America ; and arrangements were accordingly made 
which, whatever else may be said of them, undoubtedly 
accomplished that end. In the autumn of 1773 ships 
laden with tea sailed for the four principal ports on the 
Atlantic seaboard ; and agents or consignees of the 
East India Company were appointed by letter to attend 
their arrival in each of the four towns. The captain of 
the vessel despatched to Philadelphia found such a re- 
ception awaiting him that he sailed straight back to 
England. Boston, under circumstances which have 
been too frequently described to admit of their ever 
again being related in detail, gratified the curiosity of 
an energetic patriot who expressed a wish to see whether 
tea could be made with salt water. At Charleston the 
cargo was deposited in a damp cellar, where it was 
spoiled as effectually as if it had been floating on the 
tide up and down the channel between James Island 
and Sullivan's Island ; and, when New York learned 
that the tea-ships allotted to it had been driven by a gale 


off the coast, men scanned the horizon, like the garrison 
of Londonderry watching for the English fleet in Lough 
Eoyle, in their fear lest fate should rob them of their 
opportunity of proving themselves not inferior in mettle 
to the Bostonians. The great cities, — to which all the 
colonies looked as laboratories of public opinion, and 
theatres of political action, — had now deliberately com- 
mitted themselves to a policy of illegal violence which 
could not fail to wound the self-respect of the English 
people, and make Parliament, for many a long and sad 
year to come, an obedient instrument in the hands of 
men who were resolved, at all hazards, to chastise and 
humble America. 



The news from Boston came upon the mother-country 
in the provoking shape of a disagreeable surprise. For 
the ordinary English citizen it was news indeed. He 
had heard how at Philadelphia, on the 4th of June, 1766, 
— the first King's birthday which followed the repeal of 
the Stamp Act, — the healths of George the Third and 
Doctor Franklin had been drunk in public at the same 
table ; and from that moment he had reposed in a serene 
conviction that the American difficulty, for his own life- 
time at all events, was over and done with. He took it 
for granted that the mob in New England was in the 
habit of hunting Custom-house officers, just as a Lon- 
doner, in the days before railroads, lived in the belief 
that the mob in the manufacturing districts of Lan- 
cashire was always breaking frames. He was aware 
that the troops had shot some townspeople in the streets 
of Boston ; but he was equally aware that, not many 
months before, the Footguards had shot some Wilkites 
in the Borough of Southwark ; and the one occurrence 
had to his mind no deeper and more permanent signifi- 
cance than the other. The last serious fact connected 
with America, which had come to his knowledge, was 
that Parliament had gone a great deal more than half 
way to meet the wishes of the colonies, had removed all 
but a mere fraction of the unpopular duties, and had 
made an arrangement with the East India Company by 
which the colonists would thenceforward drink tea much 
cheaper than he could drink it himself. And now, as 
a recognition of her patience and self-control, and as a 



reply to her friendly advances, England was slapped in 
her smiling face with a zest and vigour which sent a 
thrill of exultation through all, in any quarter of the 
world, who envied her and wished her ill. It was true 
that close and dispassionate investigation would show 
that, for the treatment which she had received, she had 
herself, or rather her chosen governors, to thank. But 
the first effect of an insult is not to set Englishmen com- 
puting and weighing what they have done to deserve it ; 
and the national indignation, in heat and unanimity, 
hardly fell short of that which was in our own time 
aroused throughout the Northern States of America by 
the bombardment of Fort Sumter. 

The country was in a temper for any folly which its 
rulers would allow it to commit; and unfortunately the 
crisis had come just when the system of Personal Gov- 
ernment had reached the culminating point of success 
towards which the King had long been working. Every 
particle of independence, and of wisdom which dared to 
assert itself, had at last been effectually eliminated from 
the Cabinet. Administrative experience was to be found 
there, and some forethought and circumspection, and 
plenty of timidity; but those Ministers who were afraid 
of strong courses stood in much greater terror of their 
strong monarch. The men who, in March 1770, had 
pronounced themselves against the retention of the Tea- 
duty were no longer in a position to warn or to advise 
him. The Duke of Grafton, after the humiliating de- 
feat which on that occasion he suffered, lost no time in 
surrendering to Lord North the first place in the Gov- 
ernment. He consented indeed, at the instance of the 
King, to keep the Privy Seal ; but he consulted his own 
dignity by refusing to sit as a subordinate in a Cabinet 
which, while he was still Prime Minister, had overruled 
him in the case of a decision second in importance to 
none which any Cabinet was ever called on to take. 

Conway and Sir Edward Hawke had retired from 
office ; and Granby had met, in mournful fashion, death 
which he had gaily confronted on many a disputed field. 


Though four generations have come and gone, an Eng- 
lish reader learns with something of a personal shock 
that there was a dark side to that brilliant career. Pos- 
terity remembers him as the Master-General of the 
Ordnance, and Commander-in-Chief of the army, whom 
no officer envied ; the statesman whom every ally, and 
every opponent, loved ; the leader of horse who was 
named with Ziethen and Seidlitz in all the cavalry bar- 
racks of Europe ; the idol of the people in days when 
the people seldom troubled themselves to distinguish be- 
tween one politician and another. But, with all this, 
Granby behind the scenes was an erring, an overbur- 
dened, and at last a most unhappy man. He was a 
jovial companion to high and humble ; a profuse and 
often unwise benefactor ; a soldier of the camp in 
foreign lands, with little time, and less inclination, to 
look closely into his private affairs at home ; and, above 
all, an elderly heir-apparent to an immense estate ; — 
and it cannot be denied that he had the faults of his 
qualities and of his position. Like some greater men, 
and with more excuse, at fifty years of age he had a 
broken constitution, and he was deep in debt. None 
the less, at the bidding of duty, he resisted the entrea- 
ties of George the Third, who was sincerely desirous not 
to lose him from the Ministry. Resigning his employ- 
ments and emoluments, he retired into pecuniary em- 
barrassment unrelieved by occupation and uncheered by 
health. A year afterwards he died at Scarborough, 
where he had gone in the hope of a cure, only to find 
himself involved in the worry and tumult of a contested 
Yorkshire election. "You are no stranger," a friend of 
the family writes, " to the spirit of procrastination. The 
noblest mind that ever existed, the amiable man whom 
we lament, was not free from it. I have lived to see 
the first heir, of a subject, in the Kingdom, lead a mis- 
erable shifting life, attended by a levee of duns, and at 
last die broken-hearted, — for so he really was, — rather 
than say, ' I will arise and go to my father.' It is im- 
possible to describe the distress of the whole country. 


Every place you passed through in tears, and the Castle 
was the head-quarters of misery and dejection. The 
Duke rose up to meet me with an appearance of cheer- 
fulness, but soon relapsed into a sullen melancholy, and 
for three weeks he appeared to me petrified." 1 

The departure of Conway, Hawke, and Granby, three 
men of the sword who feared nothing except an unright- 
eous quarrel, left the honour of England in the keeping 
of the Bedfords. For them it must be said that, when 
urging their views in council, they had all the advantage 
which proceeds from sincerity of conviction. Their ideas 
of ministerial discretion permitted them, whether sober, 
drunk, or half-seas over, to rail at the colonists as rebels 
and traitors before any company in London ; and it may 
well be believed that they did not pick their words within 
the walls of that chamber where they had a right to 
speak their entire mind in as plain terms as their col- 
leagues would endure. What is known about the tracta- 
bility of those colleagues is among the miracles of 
history ; though the full extent of it can only be con- 
jectured by a comparison of the partial revelations which 
have seen the light of day. In 1779 Lord North con- 
fessed to the King that, for at least three years, he had 
held in his heart an opinion that the system which the 
Government had pursued would end in the ruin of his 
Majesty and the country. Yet during three more years 
he continued to pursue that system, and would never 
have desisted from it if Washington had not been too 
strong for him abroad, and Charles Fox and his friends 
too many for him at home. Lord Gower, the President 

1 Historical Manuscripts Commission. Twelfth Report, Appendix, Part 
V. The letter is in sad contrast with another in the same volume written 
nine years before to Granby, then a recalcitrant invalid, by Lord Ligonier, 
— one of the few men who had a right to criticise or to compliment him. 
" I am to thank you for the remedy you have discovered for a fever. It 
has ever been unknown till your time ; but now it is manifest that, if a man 
is ordered to his bed with this disorder, he has nothing more to do than to 
jump out of it, get upon his horse, and fight away. But however prevail- 
ing that remedy has been on a late occasion, I do not recommend it for the 
future." Granby had just come victorious out of the last and fiercest of 
his German battles. 

vol. I. I 


of the Council, supported in public North's policy, al- 
though he loved it no better than did North himself ; 
but five years so spent were enough for him, and at the 
end of that period he appeased his conscience by a resig- 
nation which, for a member of that Ministry, may be 
called prompt, and even premature. Strangest of all 
was the letter in which Lord Barrington, before ever a 
cannon had been fired or a sabre stained, had laid down 
in black and white his inward judgement on what had 
been the origin of the dispute, and on what should be the 
conduct of the war. He argued that it was madness on 
the part of any Ministry to impose a tax which no Min- 
istry had the strength to levy ; that the attempt to fight 
the colonists on land could only result in disaster and 
disgrace ; that a judicious employment of our naval 
force was the least unpromising method of combating 
the rebellion ; and that, so far from reinforcing the army 
in Massachusetts, the garrison should at once be with- 
drawn from Boston, leaving that undutiful city to its 
own devices. Those were his views, deliberately enter- 
tained and never abandoned ; and nevertheless, as 
Secretary at War, he despatched to America every 
soldier who fought between the day of Bunker's Hill 
and the day of Monmouth Court House. 

The theory of ministerial responsibility which then 
prevailed in high official circles was carefully laid down 
by Lord Barrington's brother, the Bishop of Durham, 
in a passage of biography agreeably redolent of fra- 
ternal pride. " In conjunction," the Bishop wrote, 
" with the other members of Administration, Lord Bar- 
rington bore the censures which were now very gen- 
erally directed against the supporters of the American 
War : yet no person less deserved those censures. 
There is the clearest and most decisive evidence that 
Lord Barrington disapproved the adopted mode of 
coercion, and that he submitted, both to the King and 
his Ministers, his sentiments on the subject in the most 
unequivocal terms. His opinion was that, though it 
became his duty to remonstrate with his colleagues in 


office, it was neither honourable nor proper for him to 
appeal to the uninformed judgements of others, and to 
play a game of popularity at the expense of the public." 

The colleague to whom Lord Harrington more partic- 
ularly addressed his remonstrances was Lord Dart- 
mouth, the Secretary of State in charge of America. 
His selection for that post had been an act of true 
wisdom. With an empire such as ours, a judicious 
ruler, who has an appointment to make, takes due 
account of local tastes and preferences. He will flatter 
one colony by sending to it as Governor a public man 
who is supposed to have studied agriculture, and will 
please another by appointing a nobleman who undoubt- 
edly understands horses. Bringing the same know- 
ledge of mankind into higher regions, George the Third 
and Lord North paid America a marked and acceptable 
compliment when they committed the care of her in- 
terests to the most distinguished member of a school of 
thought and practice which was already beginning to be 
called Evangelical. 

The fame of Lord Dartmouth had been carried far 
and wide throughout the English-speaking world by 
that association of brave and sincere men who were in 
hard conflict with the vices of the age, and in earnest 
protest against the lukewarmness of its religious faith. 
He was a Churchman ; and the claims of the Establish- 
ment were in small favour with the colonists. But he 
belonged to that section of Churchmen who looked out- 
side, as well as within, their own borders for allies to 
aid them in their lifelong warfare against ignorance and 
indifference, misery, cruelty, and sin. Lord Halifax, 
accounted a rake and spendthrift even by that lax gen- 
eration, had gone as far as he dared, and much farther 
than was safe, into a scheme for planting bishops in 
America. But Dartmouth, the light of whose goodness 
would have shone in the brightest days of Christianity, 
recognised only one spiritual banner beneath which 
men should fight, and cared little or nothing to what 
regiment belonged the arm that sustained it, if only it 

1 2 


was carried worthily. He had long ago applied himself 
to the sage and praiseworthy task of turning to account 
the spirit of enthusiasm which had grown strong within 
the Church itself, under the fostering care' of John 
Wesley. The great preacher in his letters to the Sec- 
retary of State, occasionally pushed somewhat far 
a friend's privilege of criticism and remonstrance ; but 
Dartmouth had no notion of throwing away the ad- 
vantage of such an intimacy on account of a few frank 
and rough words. "Have you a person," asked 
Wesley, " in all England who speaks to your lordship 
so plain and downright as I do ; who considers not the 
peer, but the man ; who rarely commends, but often 
blames, and perhaps would do it oftener if you desired 
it ? " More than once, as will be seen in the course of 
this narrative, Wesley made good his promise at a time 
when honest advice was of priceless value. 

Dartmouth assisted Lady Huntingdon with his means 
and influence, and the still more needed contribution of 
his sound sense and knowledge of the world, in her 
endeavours to provide English pulpits with a supply of 
preachers who believed what they said, and were trained 
in the art of saying it. He found a wiser, and not less 
open-handed, auxiliary than her Ladyship in John Thorn- 
ton, the true founder of the Evangelicalism which was 
prevalent and prominent in the Established Church 
during the period when that Church took a forward part 
in courageous and unpopular movements for the general 
benefit of mankind. The two friends quietly and steadily 
applied themselves to mend the income of poor livings 
held by good men, to purchase advowsons, and to confer 
them upon clergymen who expounded the Gospel as 
they themselves had learned it. While pursuing this 
work they had the rare privilege of establishing a per- 
manent claim on the gratitude of very many who have 
little sympathy with their specific creed. Lord Dart- 
mouth made interest in high episcopal quarters to obtain 
the ordination of John Newton, who was too much in 
earnest about religion to be readily entrusted with a 



commission to teach it, except as a matter of favour to a 
great man. The statesman placed the divine in the 
curacy of Olney ; and Mr. Thornton added an allowance 
of two hundred pounds a year. " Be hospitable," he 
wrote to Newton, "and keep an- open house for such as 
are worthy of entertainment. Help the poor and needy." 
That roof soon sheltered a guest than whom few had 
been worthier of entertainment since Abraham's tent 
was pitched on the plains of Mamre, and none had been 
more in need of it since this world began. For William 
Cowper spent the period of gloom and depression which 
fell upon him in middle life under Newton's care, and 
as a member of his family. It was at Dartmouth's cost 
that the house had been fitted and furnished, and deco- 
rated in a manner to suit the taste of the inmates. And 
to Dartmouth Newton made periodical reports of his 
friend's condition in phraseology now long out of date, 
but alive with sentiments of tenderness and delicacy 
which were to the honour of him who wrote, and of him 
who read. 1 

Cowper, and Newton, and Lady Huntingdon, and 
the Wesleys were Church people, or laboured stoutly to 
be accounted so. But Dartmouth's breadth of charity 
and ardour of conviction were bounded by no ecclesias- 
tical barriers ; and in this respect he was in full sym- 
pathy with his friend John Thornton, who seldom enjoyed 
an excursion to the mountains or the sea-coast unless 
he was accompanied by some Nonconformist minister 
who wanted, but could not afford, a holiday. Already, 
long before official position had made it worth his while 
to court popularity in the colonies, the peer had taken 
most effective interest in a school established on the 

1 As soon as a favourable change arrived in Covvper's health, Dart- 
mouth was the first to be informed by John Newton that the Lord was 
" on his way to turn mourning into joy." When Cowper came once more 
to himself, he found his shelves bare of the books, which had been sold 
during the period of his sickness and poverty. Dartmouth's library then 
supplied him with the volumes of travels over the study of which his mind 
regained its strength, and acquired a cheerfulness that endured long 
enough to depict itself for our delight in indelible colours before it once 
again was overclouded. 


New Hampshire frontier for the conversion and civilisa- 
tion of the Indians: a school which, as time went on, 
and his benefactions multiplied, received the name of 
Dartmouth College. In 1771 he invited the co-opera- 
tion of the Bishop of London, and received a reply of a 
nature which goes further to illustrate the inward 
causes of the American troubles than many ponderous 
volumes of minutes and reports. The Bishop, (so the 
answer ran,) had received no intimation that the Head 
of the College was to belong to the Church of England, 
or that the prayers to be used were those of the Liturgy. 
The other members of the Board, his Lordship further 
remarked, appeared to be Dissenters, and he therefore 
could not see how a bishop could be of use among them, 
and accordingly begged to decline the honour which 
the trustees had done him. The Bishop altogether ig- 
nored the circumstance that members of the Church of 
England were the Dissenters in Massachusetts ; and 
that, at the very outside, they numbered only one-fif- 
teenth of the population. Dartmouth, however, was well 
aware that a religious undertaking in New England, if 
Congregationalists and Presbyterians were kept out of it, 
could not be expected to overflow with vitality ; and, in 
face of the Bishop of London's disapproval, he continued 
to be President of the Board. 

The colonists saw that Dartmouth understood their 
ways, and was at one with them on matters which he 
regarded as infinitely higher and more important than 
any political differences. Whether he was in or out of 
office, — when he was advocating their cause, and when, 
in obedience to worse and stronger men than himself, 
he was doing his utmost to ruin it, — they persisted in 
looking on him as a friend at heart. Virginia and New 
York addressed to him their felicitations on the repeal 
of the Stamp Act, accompanied, among other less 
romantic presents, by a young eaglet ; at whose full- 
grown claws and beak, in coming years, he must have 
looked with mingled feelings when he paid a visit to his 
aviary. On the occasion of the Boston massacre of 



March 1770 the popular leaders transmitted to Dart- 
mouth a full account of their proceedings, as to an 
honest man who would take care that their statement of 
the case should be known at Court. When, in August, 
1772, he was appointed Secretary of the Colonies, the 
news was hailed with satisfaction throughout America 
by people of all parties ; and as months rolled on, and 
the plot thickened, every post brought him more valu- 
able testimonies of affection and confidence in the shape 
of letters of counsel from the most unlikely quarters. 
Good men, even from among the ranks of those whom 
he never without a twinge could call rebels, dared to 
write him their true thoughts, and cared to do it. When 
he allowed himself to become the instrument of an hos- 
tility which was foreign to his nature, — and, it is to be 
feared, not consonant with his opinions, — they dimin- 
ished something from their respect, but he always 
retained their love. Two generations afterwards, in 
the July of 1829, the citizens of New York asked leave 
to detain his portrait, then on its way from England to 
the College which bore his name. The request was 
granted ; and they placed the picture in their Hall of 
Justice, next those of Washington and Franklin, on the 
day of the Celebration of Independence. If Dartmouth 
could have ruled the colonies according to the dictates 
of his own judgement and his own conscience, that In- 
dependence would have been postponed till he had 
ceased to be Secretary of State ; and, whenever it 
arrived, it would have excited very different feelings 
and recollections from those with which it was destined 
to be associated. 

Among men of our race, in every quarter of the globe, 
and under every form of government, as soon as a pub- 
lic danger is clearly recognised, some one will be found 
to face it. The undisguised tyranny of the Stuarts in 
the seventeenth century had worked its own cure by the 
sturdy opposition which it evoked from all classes, and 
almost every creed. By the time George the Third had 


been on the throne ten years, there were no two opinions 
among politicians about the righteousness and wisdom 
of the Revolution of 1688. To hear them talk, they 
were all Whigs together; but meanwhile, under their 
eyes, and with their concurrence, a despotism of a subtle 
and insidious texture was being swiftly and deftly inter- 
woven into the entire fabric of the Constitution. The 
strong will, the imperious character, and the patient, 
unresting industry of the King, working through sub- 
servient Ministers upon a corrupt Parliament, had made 
him master of the State as effectively, and far more se- 
curely, than if his authority had rested on the support 
of an army of foreign mercenaries. The purpose to 
which he was capable of putting his all but unlimited 
authority was soon to be written in blood and fire over 
the face of the globe ; but already there was a man who, 
from his reading of history, his knowledge of human 
nature, and his experience of what politics had become 
since the new policy began to be inaugurated, foresaw 
the consequences which could not fail to result from the 
establishment of absolute power. 

That man was Edmund Burke, who for some time 
past had been looking about him in search of forces able 
to make good a resistance which he himself, at any per- 
sonal hazard whatever, was resolved to offer. He hoped 
little from the people. Even if the public at large had 
been awake to what was going on, and had cared to stop 
it, all effort in that direction would have been sorely 
hampered by the trammels of the system under which 
Parliament was then chosen. Free electoral bodies ex- 
isted in most of the counties of England, and in some 
of her great cities ; but those bodies could do little, how- 
ever strongly they might desire to make their influence 
felt. They were overweighted and overborne by the 
three hundred and sixty members for boroughs in the 
hands of private patrons or of the Treasury itself, and 
by Scotland, which was one close constituency returning 
fifty so-called representatives. In truth, however, the 
opinion of the country was asleep ; and those who were 


most anxious to arouse it, in despondent moments, were 
inclined to pronounce it dead. " As to the good people 
of England," said Burke, " they seem to partake every 
day, more and more, of the character of that administra- 
tion which they have been induced to tolerate. I am 
satisfied that, within a few years, there has been a great 
change in the national character. We seem no longer 
that eager, inquisitive, jealous, fiery people which we 
have been formerly, and which we have been a very 
short time ago. No man commends the measures which 
have been pursued, or expects any good from those 
which are in preparation ; but it is a cold, languid 
opinion, like what men discover in affairs that do not 
concern them. It excites to no passion. It prompts to 
no action." 1 

Despairing of the mass, Burke turned to individuals ; 
and he found his recruits for the party of independence 
and purity among the most exalted and wealthy of the 
land. He argued, (and there was reason for it,) that a 
sense of public duty must be founded on a consciousness 
of public responsibility. Thousands of honest votes, 
cast in the polling booths of Yorkshire and Somerset- 
shire, went for no more than the voice of a constituency 
the whole of which could sit round one table within 
reach of the same haunch of venison. The average 
elector, when once that knowledge had been brought 
home to him, did not care to inform himself minutely 
about affairs of State, a share in the control of which 
was so capriciously and unequally distributed. But it 
was another matter with those who were born to govern. 
The peer with an hereditary seat in that House which 
then afforded almost as good a platform for an orator as 
the other, and a still more advantageous starting-point 
for an administrator ; the young man of fortune, who 
had only to choose the borough for his money, as his 
brother in orders would choose a living, or his brother 
in the army a regiment ; the great landowner, whom the 
freeholders trusted and liked as a country neighbour, 

1 Letter to Lord Rockingham ; August 23, 1775. 


without very close inquiry into the side which he took 
in the squabbles and intrigues among which he had to 
shape his course at Westminster ; — these were men who 
had leisure for public affairs, who could influence their 
direction and their issue, and who had the deepest in- 
terest in understanding them. The nature and extent of 
that interest Burke explained in a fine lesson, couched 
under the form of flattery, and addressed to a disciple 
who was soon to improve upon the teaching of his 
master. " Persons in your station of life," he wrote to 
the Duke of Richmond, "ought to have long views. 
You, if you are what you ought to be, are in my eyes 
the great oaks that shade a country and perpetuate 
your benefits from generation to generation. The im- 
mediate power of a Duke of Richmond, or a Marquis of 
Rockingham, is not so much of moment ; but if their 
conduct and example hand down their principles to their 
successors, then their houses become the public reposi- 
tories and offices of record for the Constitution : not like 
the Tower, or Rolls Chapel, where it is searched for, and 
sometimes in vain, in rotten parchments under dripping 
and perishing walls ; but in full vigour, and acting with 
vital energy and power, in the character of the leading 
men and natural interests of the country." Such, and 
so very far from democratic, was the origin of the party 
which from that time onward fought the battle of liberal 
principles in Parliament. 

When tidings of popular violence, most exasperating 
to the English mind, arrived from America, a grave 
responsibility devolved upon statesmen who were out 
of office ; for, — with all who were prudent in the Minis- 
try cowed and silent, and its reckless members dom- 
inant and noisy, — the nation, at this supreme moment, 
was likely to be ill piloted. More often than appears on 
the face of history, a Cabinet has been saved from the 
full consequences of its own policy by an Opposition 
which did not shrink from the labour, and the odium, of 
preventing the men in power from effecting all the mis- 
chief upon which their minds were set ; but such a task, 


the most invidious which can fall within the sphere of 
public duty, requires something more for its successful 
performance than patriotic impulses and good inten- 
tions. Unfortunately those honourable and seemly 
political commodities now constituted nearly the whole 
stock in trade of the peers and county members who 
watched and criticised the Government. As Ministers, 
eight years before, they had done their duty faithfully 
and well during the brief period which elapsed between 
the moment when the King had no choice but to accept 
their services, and the moment when he first could find 
a pretext for dispensing with them. Burke's " Short 
Account of a Short Administration" set forth, with the 
unadorned fidelity of an inventory, the catalogue of per- 
formances which Lord Rockingham and his colleagues 
had packed into the compass of one year and twenty 
days. In tastes, in character, and in worldly position 
these men were suited to use power well, and to aban- 
don it cheerfully as soon as they were unable any 
longer to employ it for the advantage of the country ; 
but they were not equally inclined to conduct, year in 
and year out, the thankless and hopeless battle against 
able and unscrupulous opponents who were fighting like 
irritated bulldogs in defence of their salaries. For true 
gentlemen, (and such the Rockinghams were,) the pros- 
pect before them was not enticing. The best they 
could anticipate was to spend years in being bantered 
by Rigby, and brow-beaten by Thurlow, and denounced 
as traitors by Wedderburn for expressing in mild terms 
their sympathy with a cause which in former days he 
had almost contrived to bring into disrepute by the vio- 
lence with which he had advocated it. And at the end 
of those years they might, as the crown of success, be 
able to force themselves into the counsels of a monarch 
who hated them, and who treated them as none among 
them would have treated the humblest of their depen- 
dents and retainers. 

The Whig magnates, while they had little to gain 
from a political career, had in their own opinion almost 


everything to lose. In that age of enjoyment they held 
the best seats in the theatre of life ; and their notions 
of pleasure squared, even less than those of most men, 
with the conditions under which hard public work is 
done. There were politicians for whom the sweetest 
hours of the twenty-four began when the rattle of the 
coaches up St. James Street told that the House of 
Commons was no longer sitting, and ended when they 
were helped into their beds by daylight; — in whose 
eyes Ranelagh surpassed all the gardens of Chatsworth, 
and the trees in the Mall were more excellent than tfre 
elms at Althorp or the oaks of Welbeck. But Rock- 
ingham and his followers loved the country ; and there 
were few amongst them who did not possess plenty of 
it to love. Assembling for business in a November fog, 
and wrangling on until a June sun shone reproachfully 
through the windows, seemed a doubtful form of happi- 
ness even to Gibbon, whose conceptions of rustic soli- 
tude did not go beyond a cottage at Hampton Court 
during the summer months. But to haunt London 
when the thorns were red and white, and the syringas 
fragrant, or when the hounds were running over the 
Yorkshire pastures, and the woodcocks were gathering 
in the Norfolk copses ; to debate amidst clamour, and 
vote in a lobby where there was hardly space to stand, 
with the hope that at some unknown point in the future 
he might draw salary for a few quarter days, — was not 
a career to the mind of a great landowner who seldom 
got as much sport and fresh air as he could wish, and 
who, since he had outgrown the temptations of the 
card-table, had never known what it was to spend half 
his income. 

In the spring of 1774 the Opposition retained very 
little hold on Parliament, and still less on the country. 
Their impotence was the constant theme of every one 
who was their well-wisher, and who would have been 
their supporter if they had provided him with anything 
to support. Their supine attitude was noticed with de- 
light and exultation in the private letters of their adver- 


saries, who were however far too judicious to taunt them 
with it in public ; and among themselves it formed an 
unfailing subject of mutual confession and expostulation. 
For years together, both before and after the outbreak 
of the American War, the comments of Londoners who 
kept their friends at a distance informed of what was 
doing at Westminster are all in the same strain. " I 
wish I could send you some news," wrote Lord Town- 
shend in 1772 ; " but all is dull and the town thin. The 
Opposition, poor souls who can do no harm, (the Dukes 
of Richmond, Devonshire, and Portland excepted,) seem 
to have left the nation entirely to this wicked Ministry." 
"Lord North," said Sir George Macartney in 1773, 
" has had a wonderful tide of success, and there does 
not seem anything likely to interrupt it. Opposition is 
growing ridiculous and contemptible, and 'tis now said 
that after this Session Lord Rockingham will give it 

The colonial difficulty, instead of bracing the sinews 
of the Opposition, only made them more conscious of 
their own helplessness. The Duke of Richmond, who 
was the fighting man of the party in the Lords, admitted 
in March 1775 that he felt very languid about the 
American business ; that he saw no use in renewing 
efforts which invariably failed ; and that, in his view, 
nothing would restore common-sense to the country 
except the dreadful consequences which must follow 
from what he called the diabolical policy on which it 
was embarked. 1 Horace Walpole, an honest and anx- 
ious patriot beneath all his fashionable gossip and anti- 
quarian frippery, thus wound up a long series of passages 
reflecting on the degeneracy of the party which pro- 
fessed to withstand the Court. " I would lay a wager 
that if a parcel of schoolboys were to play at politicians, 

1 Samuel Curwen, a Torv exile who had fled across the Atlantic in what 
may be described as the First Emigration, comforted his fellow-Loyalists, 
whom he had left behind him in America, with assurances that the Oppo- 
sition in the British Parliament was too inconsiderable in numbers, influ- 
ence, and activity to hinder the plans of the Administration for restoring 
order in New England. 


the children that should take the part of the Opposition 
would discover more spirit and sense. The cruellest 
thing that has been said of the Americans by the Court 
is that they were encouraged by the Opposition. You 
might as soon light a fire with a wet dishclout." 

Epithet for epithet, the retrospective loyalty due from 
Liberals to a former chief of their party would incline 
them to compare Lord Rockingham to a nobler article 
of domestic use than that which suggested itself to Hor- 
ace Walpole ; but a wet blanket he certainly must be 
called. He was the most exalted instance in Parlia- 
mentary history of the force of Burke's maxim that a 
habit of not speaking at all grows upon men as fast as 
a habit of speaking ill, and is as great a misfortune. 
To the end of his days, whenever Rockingham had 
mustered courage to open his mouth in public, he was 
congratulated as if he had been a young County Mem- 
ber who had moved the Address, without breaking down, 
on the first day of his first Parliament. " It gave me 
great pleasure," wrote the Duke of Richmond in 1769, 
" to hear that you had exerted yourself to speak in the 
House ; and I am particularly pleased that you returned 
to the charge on the second day, and replied : for it 
gives me hopes that you will get rid of that ill-placed 
timidity which has hitherto checked you. Be assured, 
you cannot speak too often. Practice will make it easy 
to you." It was a curious way of writing to a man who 
had already been Prime Minister. 

If in the Lords the Opposition had a leader whose 
heart sank within him whenever he gave the word of 
command, the Opposition in the Commons had to do as 
they best could without any leader whatsoever. They 
came to the House, as Burke ruefully expressed it, to 
dispute among themselves, to divert the Ministry, and 
to divide eight and twenty. There was indeed always 
Burke, who during a quarter of a century adorned and 
illustrated the cause of freedom; and who, when in his 
declining years he exerted his eloquence against the 
French Revolution, led, or rather drove, the House of 


Commons and the Government, and the country too. 
But his merits and his failings alike disqualified him to 
be the titular head of one of the great parties in the 
fastidious and aristocratic Parliaments of the eighteenth 
century. He had some of the faults of his time, and 
some of the defects which are popularly imputed to his 
place of birth. He wanted self-control in debate ; and 
he seldom observed a sense of proportion either in the 
length of his speeches, or in the size and colour of his 
rhetorical figures. There are passages in Burke, rich 
to gaudiness and audacious almost to crudity, which are 
equally astonishing when we reflect that a human im- 
agination was capable of producing them without pre- 
vious study, and when we remember that they were 
spoken, in the actual words which we now read, to a 
House of Commons waiting for its dinner or, (more 
inconceivable still,) to a House of Commons that had 
dined. 1 He lived beyond his means, and was far too 
much in the company of relatives who were not particu- 
lar as to the methods by which they endeavoured to fill 
their empty purses ; but that circumstance in itself should 
have been no bar to the favour of an Assembly where 
the receipt for mending an impaired fortune was to sell 
votes for allotments in government loans, and for shares 
in government contracts. The unpardonable sin of 
Edmund Burke was that he owed his position in the 
political world to nothing except his industry and his 

He knew his place ; and if he ever forgot it, there 
were those at hand who made it a matter of conscience 

1 In 1770, when arguing for an inquiry into the administration of the 
law of libel, Burke thus expressed his want of confidence in the Judges : 
"The lightning has- pierced their sanctuary, and rent the veil of their 
temple from the top even to the bottom. Nothing is whole, nothing is 
sound. The ten tables of the law are shattered and splintered. The Ark 
of the Covenant is lost, and passed into the hands of the uncircumcised. 
Both they and ye are become an abomination unto the Lord. In order to 
wash away your sins, let Moses and the prophets ascend Mount Sinai, and 
bring us down the second table of the law in thunders and lightnings ; for 
in thunders and lightnings the Constitution was first, and must now, be 


to deal with him faithfully. He left among his papers 
a noble composition which, if it had been a fifth of the 
length that it is, would have been as widely admired as 
Dr. Johnson's reply to Lord Chesterfield. It was the 
draft answer to a letter from Dr. Markham, the Bishop 
of Chester, and tutor to the Prince of Wales. Markham 
had taken upon himself to reprove Edmund Burke for 
his public conduct ; and on that occasion he sadly for- 
got what was due to an old friendship, and to the per- 
sonal claims of the man whom he was addressing. Even 
at this distance of time it is impossible to read without 
indignation the contemptuous terms in which a success- 
ful formalist, who had risen by worldly arts into a great 
ecclesiastical position, 1 ventured to upbraid an exalted 
thinker, who had missed wealth and prosperity, for his 
presumption in expressing an opinion on matters which 
were too high for him, and on people of a station above 
his own. The Churchman expressed surprise that the 
member of Parliament resented the advice to bring down 
the aim of his ambition to a lower level, and reminded 
him that arrogance in a man of his condition was intol- 
erable. Burke's conduct was ridiculous folly, and his 
house, "a hole of adders" ; and, being what he was, he 
had the insolence to ill-treat the first men of the king- 
dom ; — those first men being Rigby and Lord Barring- 
ton, whose names are now chiefly remembered because 
they occasionally appear to disadvantage in a corner of 
one of his scathing sentences. " My Lord," was the 
reply, " I think very poorly of Ned Burke or his preten- 
sions ; but, by the blessing of God, the just claims of 
active members of Parliament shall never be lowered 
in the estimation of mankind by my personal or official 
insignificance. ... If ever things should entitle me to 

1 In 1764 Markham entreated the Duke of Bedford to procure him 
" one of the inferior bishoprics." " Whatever preferment," the Rev- 
erend Doctor wrote, " I may chance to rise to, I shall not set a higher 
value on any of its emoluments than on the ability it may possibly give me 
of being useful to some of your Grace's friends." — The Bedford Corre- 
spondence ; vol. iii., p. 275. 


look for office, it is my friends who must discover the 
place I hold in Parliament. I shall never explain it. I 
protest most solemnly that, in my eye, thinking as I do 
of the intrinsic dignity of a member of Parliament, I 
should look upon the highest office the subject could 
aspire to as an object rather of humiliation than of pride. 
It would very much arrange me in point of convenience. 
It would do nothing for me in point of honour." 2 

Burke needed no candid friend to bid him take a 
lower seat. The iron had entered into his soul, never 
to leave it ; and, far from aspiring to the first place, he 
was well aware that he could not afford even to be con- 
spicuous. " I saw and spoke to several," he writes on 
one occasion. " Possibly I might have done service to 
the cause, but I did none to myself. This method of 
going hither and thither, and agitating things person- 
ally, when it is not done in chief, lowers the estimation 
of whoever is engaged in such transactions ; especially 
as they judge in the House of Commons that a man's 
intentions are pure in proportion to his languor in en- 
deavouring to carry them into execution." 1 So deeply 
impressed was he with the preponderating influence 
which birth and rank then exercised in the transactions 
of politics that he seriously thought of inviting Lord 
George Germaine to marshal and command the party. 
At a very early moment, however, it became evident that, 
for people who wanted to be taken under fire, it was not 
enough to get Lord George Germaine into the saddle ; 
for a division in Parliament answers to a charge in the 
field, and Lord George had as little eye or heart for the 
one as for the other. It soon got to Burke's saying 
plainly and bluntly that, whether his Lordship concurred 
or not, no human consideration would hinder himself, 
for one, from dividing the House ; and the paths of the 
two men thenceforward finally diverged. The noble- 
man took the road which led to place, and salary, and a 
perceptible addition to the heavy account which already 

1 Burke to Rockingham; January 10, 1773. Correspondence of Edmund 
Burke; vol. i., pp. 276 to 338. 

vol. 1. K 


stood against him in a ledger of Britain's glory. The 
commoner returned to his continuous, and at length vic> 
torious, wrestle with corruption in high places, and to 
his honourable and indispensable, but obscure, labours 
behind the scenes of the senatorial theatre. 

"Burke," said the Duke of Richmond, "you have 
more merit than any man in keeping us together; " and 
none knew better than his Grace how hard the task 
was. The exertions of the great orator were by no 
means confined to the Chamber in which he himself 
sate. He counted the peers as a part of the flock which 
he tended with so small a prospective share in the 
profits, and so exclusive a monopoly of the toil and the 
anxiety. He wrote their Protests ; he drew their Reso- 
lutions ; he told them when they were to speak, and 
sketched, not always in outline, what they were to say. 
From Rockingham downwards he urged on them the 
duty of attendance at Westminster, putting aside the 
plea of weak health with decorous but unambiguous in- 
credulity. His desk was full of pathetic epistles in 
which the fathers of the Whig party, in both Houses, 
begged to be allowed a little longer holiday from the 
public debates, and, (what in that season of discourage- 
ment and depression they liked even less,) from the 
private consultations of the party. " Indeed, Burke," 
wrote the Duke of Richmond from Goodwood, "you 
are too unreasonable to desire me to be in town some 
time before the Meeting of Parliament. You see how 
very desperate I think the game is. You know how 
little weight my opinion is of with our friends in the 
lump ; and to what purpose can I then meet them ? 
No ; let me enjoy myself here till the Meeting, and then, 
at your desire, I will go to town and look about me for 
a few days." Even Savile stopped at home, for reasons 
sufficiently elevated and disinterested to have commended 
themselves to John Hampden, but which none the less 
kept him out of the way when he was most wanted. 
Lord John Cavendish, never good at excuses, and light- 
est among the light weights who could afford to be well 


mounted, was reduced to admit that he stayed in the 
country to hunt; and Burke's sentiment with regard to 
him was divided between respect for his frankness, and 
regret for the absence of the keenest politician in a 
family group who required no watching or stimulating 
when once he had collected them in London. 1 

The Whigs defended themselves to each other, — and, 
when they dared, tried to pacify their taskmaster, — by the 
allegation that public action was useless in the House 
because public feeling was asleep in the country. But 
this, as Burke did not hesitate to inform them, was their 
own fault. They were selfishly indifferent about what 
he regarded as a statesman's primary function, that of 
instructing the people to discern and pursue their own 
highest interests. When it was a question of prevent- 
ing a rival family from securing the representation of 
the Shire in which he lived, any one of them was ready 
to spend his last guinea ; to mortgage his home-farm ; to 
cut down his avenue ; to rise from a sick bed, (like poor 
Granby,) in order to vote, and canvass, and dine in a 
stuffy tavern, at an unheard-of hour, in a company with 
whom, outside politics, he had not a taste in common. 
And yet the same man would take no trouble, and sacri- 
fice none of his leisure, in order to teach his countrymen 
what they ought to think about their own grievances, 
and the dangers and duties of the nation. If the Oppo- 
sition, (so Burke told them,) were to electioneer with the 
same want of spirit as they displayed over the advocacy 

1 The state of things was described by Mason in a satire written just 
before the change for the better came. 

" For, know, poor Opposition wants a head. 
With hound and horn her truant schoolboys roam 
And for a fox-chase quit Saint Stephen's dome, 
Forgetful of their grandsire Nimrod's plan, 
1 A mighty hunter, but his prey was man.' " 

Even in his rebukes Mason drew a distinction, creditable to the Rocking- 
hams, between their favourite pursuits and the recreations in vogue among 
their political adversaries, who, according to the poet, 

" At crowded Al mack's nightly bet, 
To stretch their own beyond the nation's debt." 



of those great principles which were the end and object 
for which elections exist, there would not be a Whig 
member left in Yorkshire or in Derbyshire. " The peo- 
ple," he wrote, " are not answerable for their present 
supine acquiescence : indeed they are not. God and 
nature never made them to think or act without guid- 
ance and direction." 

But guidance was impossible when the guides them- 
selves were uncertain about the quarter towards which 
they should advance, and, in any case, were in no hurry 
to start. As far as the supply of public questions was 
concerned, the party was living from hand to mouth, 
and fared very sparingly. Wilkes, if it is not profane 
to say so, had in his day been nothing short of a God- 
send ; and, to do them justice, the Whigs had made the 
most of him. 1 But by this time the country was tired of 
Wilkes; and Wilkes was still more heartily tired of him- 
self as a public character, and an idol for popular enthu- 
siasm. Nor could anything be hoped from a movement 
in favour of Parliamentary Reform. Although the 
Middlesex election had brought strongly into notice the 
glaring defects of our representative system, it was 
impossible to unite the Rockinghams over any propo- 
sal by which those defects might be remedied ; for on 
that point Burke himself was a Tory of the Tories. 
Several Whig statesmen had Reform bills of their own ; 
but whenever they showed any disposition to agree upon 
a plan, and to array themselves in support of it, Burke 
threw himself across their path as an opponent ; and, 
like the conquering brigade at Albuera, his dreadful 
volleys swept away the head of every formation. It 
was useless for Savile to recommend the shortening of 
parliaments, or for Richmond to suggest the extension 
of the franchise. As soon as their proposals had taken 

1 "The people were very much, and very generally, touched with the 
question on Middlesex. We never had, and we never shall have, a matter 
every way so well calculated to engage them. The scantiness of the 
ground makes it the more necessary to cultivate it with vigour and dili- 
gence ; else the rule of exiguum colito will neither be good farming, nor 
good politics." — Burke to Lord Rockingham; September 8, 1770. 


shape, and attracted notice, Burke appealed to all sober 
thinkers to say whether England was not the happiest 
of communities in its exemption from the horrible dis- 
orders of frequent elections ; and whether it would not 
be more in the spirit of our constitution, and more agree- 
able to the pattern of our best laws, rather to lessen the 
number, and so add to the weight and independency, of 
our voters. 

At last the Whigs were confronted by a question 
which aroused them as their forefathers were stirred by 
the imposition of Ship-money. It became known that 
the Irish Parliament meditated a bill laying a tax of two 
shillings in the pound on the estates of absentee land- 
owners, and that the Irish Government, in sore straits 
for funds, would assist the measure to become law. The 
rich Whig proprietors were deeply moved ; and on this 
occasion they showed no want of vigour and alacrity. 
They addressed to the Prime Minister a memorial pray- 
ing that the Privy Council would refuse to pass the bill ; 
and no abler and more artful state-paper had been signed 
by the great names of the party since the invitation to 
William of Orange. The letter to Lord North was even 
better worded than that historical document of the past, 
for it was drafted by Burke himself ; but all the consid- 
erations put forth in condensed and formidable array by 
the most skilful of Irish pens, employed on a strange 
office, will not avail against a couple of sentences which 
described the attitude of the first among living English- 
men. " I could not," said Chatham, " as a peer of Eng- 
land, advise the King to reject a tax sent over here as 
the genuine desire of the Commons of Ireland, acting in 
their proper and peculiar sphere, and exercising their 
inherent exclusive right, by raising supplies in the man- 
ner they judge best. This great principle of the con- 
stitution is so fundamental, and with me so sacred and 
indispensable, that it outweighs all other considerations." 
In the end, the proposal was defeated in the Irish Par- 
liament. The noblemen who had broad acres in both 
countries commanded a greater influence in Dublin even 


than that which they exercised at Westminster. The 
Irish Ministry, who by this time had learned that the 
King, for once agreeing with the Rockinghams, had 
condemned the tax as "very objectionable," 1 fought to 
lose, and with some difficulty got themselves beaten by 
a narrow majority. But, narrow as it was, it saved the 
Whigs from the calamity of a debate in the British Par- 
liament ; a prospect which Sir George Savile contem- 
plated with the repugnance of a sensible man who had 
no fancy for losing his sleep in a cause so damaging to 
his party. Little credit, (so he wrote to Rockingham,) 
was to be obtained out of a question in which it was no- 
torious that they were all personally interested. " Hav- 
ing a day of it, as the phrase is, will not get us much 
laurels. I am sure having a night of it will be worse to 
me than a land-tax." 2 

The exhibition to which Savile looked forward with 
just apprehension was happily averted ; but none the 
less the Whigs were out of touch with the country, out 
of heart with their parliamentary work, and of small 
account among a class whose adhesion no party, which 
looks to office, can afford to lose. Pushing men, whose 
prime object is to make their way in life, whether they 
aspire to be Lord Chancellors or tide-waiters, are apt to 
grow cool in their loyalty, and, (after a more or less de- 
cent interval,) hot in their antagonism, to statesmen who 
cannot fight their own battles. Philip Francis was only 
one of thousands who, to employ his own words, had 
seen plainly that " no solid advantage would come from 

1 The King to Lord North ; November 23, 1773. 

2 A London newspaper of 1776 related how, a few years before that 
date, — when Irish landowners, and especially the absentees, were screw- 
ing up their estates to the utmost pitch, — Sir George Savile received an 
offer of ^"4000 a year from a middleman for the rents of an estate which 
brought him in only half that revenue. Savile went over to Ireland, had 
the land valued, enquired into the situation of his tenants and cottagers, 
and found that they could, without oppression, pay ,£2500 a year. He 
added that ^"500 to the rental ; but ordered it not to be remitted to him, 
but spent upon the estate in building cottages and farm-houses, and in 
giving lime, and otherwise assisting the industrious, without receiving a 
shilling for himself. 


connection with a party which had almost all the wit, 
and popularity, and abilities in the kingdom to support 
them, but never could carry a question in either House 
of Parliament." England had seldom been in a worse 
case. The tornado was approaching fast, and, accord- 
ing to Horace Walpole, her public men were at their 
wit's end ; which, he added, was no long journey. There 
were some, he said, who still put their faith in Lord 
Chatham's crutch, as a wand which might wave the 
darkness and the demons away together ; though his 
Lordship, in Walpole's opinion, was better at raising a 
storm than at laying one. But it was natural enough 
that men should turn in their despair to the imposing 
figure of the old magician, who had made the name of 
their country supreme abroad, and who had always stood 
for freedom and justice whenever and wherever they 
were in peril. Chatham had broadened and ennobled 
the discussion of the Middlesex election. He had sur- 
veyed the problem of the Absentee Tax from the point 
of view of a true statesman. He had watched the grow- 
ing greatness of the American colonies with an affection- 
ate pride which he, of all men, had a right to feel ; and 
for years past he had been in favour of Parliamentary 
Reform. " Allow a speculator in a great chair," he 
wrote in 1771, "to add that a plan for more equal repre- 
sentation, by additional Knights of the Shire, seems 
highly reasonable." 

However much, in his habitual strain of stately humil- 
ity, Chatham might affect to disparage his own impor- 
tance, he was far removed from the modern notion 
of an arm-chair politician ; for, when he felt strongly, 
he was still ready to place himself where hard blows 
were being taken and given. But years had begun to 
tell upon him ; and, when the occasion came, he was no 
longer certain of being equal to his former self. 1 His 

1 Mr. Joseph Cradock relates in his memoirs how, on a day when the 
King opened Parliament, there was crowding, and something like riot- 
ing, at the very door of the House of Lords. " Lord Carlisle," said Cra- 
dock, " seeing my distress, most kindly recognised me, and made room for 


health was worse than fitful ; and he sate in the wrong 
House of Parliament for forming and leading a national 
party. Nor must it be forgotten that the only existing 
nucleus for such a party was the group which owed 
allegiance to Lord Rockingham ; and against Rocking- 
ham and his associates Chatham was bitterly preju- 
diced. He taught himself to believe that his quarrel 
with them was on account of their moderation ; a fault 
which, if he had cared to take them in the right way, 
he would have been the very man to cure. But instead 
of trying to infuse into them the fire and resolution 
which they lacked, his mind was bent on outbidding 
and discrediting them. " I am resolved," he said, " to 
be in earnest for the public, and shall be a scare-crow 
of violence to the gentle warblers of the grove, the 
moderate Whigs and temperate statesmen." That was 
not the tone which Charles Fox, as fierce a fighter as 
Chatham himself had been in his most strenuous days, 
ever permitted himself to adopt towards men whose 
abilities and virtues he respected, and whose inertness 
and unconcern were soon exchanged for very opposite 
qualities when once he had filled them with his own 
spirit ; and the hour was now approaching for the entry 
on the scene of that Whig leader whose exhortation and 
example kept bench and lobby packed with an animated, 

me between himself and another nobleman. That nobleman got up to 
speak ; and then I perceived that it was the great Lord Chatham, whom 
I had never seen but as Mr. Pitt. He spoke only for a short time, was 
confused, and seemed greatly disconcerted ; and then, suddenly turning 
to me, asked whether I had ever heard him speak before. 'Not in this 
House, my Lord,' was my reply. ' In no House, Sir,' says he, ■ I hope, 
have I ever so disgraced myself. I feel ill, and I have been alarmed 
and annoyed this morning before I arrived. I scarce know what I have 
been talking about.' " Later on in the debate a peer made an uncompli- 
mentary reference to Chatham. " He suddenly arose, and poured forth a 
torrent of eloquence that utterly astonished. The change was inconceiv- 
able; the fire had, been kindled, and we were all electrified with his 
energy and excellence. At length he seemed quite exhausted, and, as he 
sat down, with great frankness shook me by the hand, and seemed person- 
ally to recollect mc ; and I then ventured to say, ' I hope your Lordship is 
satisfied.' 'Yes, Sir,' replied he, with a smile, 'I think I have now 
redeemed my credit.' " 


a devoted, and an ever-increasing, throng of followers 
throughout all the closing sessions of the great dispute. 

When Charles Fox left office in the February of 1774, 
the first marked period of his political life came to its 
close. From that time forward he moved across the 
stage a far wiser man, pursuing higher ends by worthier 
methods. An epicure in history will regret the moment 
when he must begin to take seriously the young aristo- 
crat who hitherto had kept the world of London as much 
alive as ever was the Athens of Alcibiades ; and the 
early career of Lord Holland's favourite son will always 
remain an amazing, if not an exemplary, chapter in the 
annals of the House of Commons and of the town. 
That career has been recounted in a former book with- 
out disguise or palliation ; and an historian who wishes 
to do his best by Charles Fox will preserve the same 
system to the last. He thought so clearly, spoke so 
forcibly, and acted so fearlessly that what was good in 
him does not need to be set off by favourable comment ; 
and what was wrong could not be concealed by reticence, 
or mended by excuses which he himself would have 
scorned to give. 

When measuring the extent of a change for the better 
in any given individual, it is necessary to take into ac- 
count how much there had been that needed amending ; 
and in the case of Fox there was spacious room for im- 
provement. Enough, and more than enough, of his old 
self remained. It required all the discipline of a long 
interval filled with toil, disaster, and disappointment, 
before the free-lance of the Wilkes controversy had 
settled down into the much-enduring champion who 
stood for liberty through the dreary years of political 
reaction which closed the eighteenth, and ushered in the 
nineteenth, century. But the grave and fatal error of 
Charles Fox's career belonged to a period later than the 
years of which these volumes treat ; and his public 
action between 1774 and 1782 will, in its character and 
its fruits, bear favourable comparison with an equal 


period in the life of any statesman who in the prosecu- 
tion of his policy enjoyed no power or influence except 
such as his tongue gave him. The contrast between 
Fox during the eight years before he was five and twenty, 
(for he began life early,) and the eight years after, ex- 
ceeds anything recorded outside religious autobiography. 
That is a province of literature in which, from Saint 
Augustine to Bunyan, the effect of such a contrast is 
apt to be heightened by the author's overestimate of 
his own early wickedness ; but Charles Fox was the last 
man who cared to exaggerate his past delinquencies, — 
if, indeed, they would have admitted of it. The differ- 
ence between what he had been, and what he became, 
was so great, and the transformation so sudden, that it 
could never have occurred but for a series of events 
which, treading with startling rapidity in each other's 
steps, in their combined effect were singularly calcu- 
lated to chasten and inspire such a nature and such an 

His political career, so far as it could lead to anything 
which in the eyes of his contemporaries seemed worth 
having, was ruined. With his own hands, to make sport 
for himself, he had pulled down the pillars of his temple, 
and had crushed none of his adversaries or, (what then 
meant much the same to him,) his leaders. When just 
turned three and twenty he had resigned his first place, 
on what, by a very friendly interpretation, might be con- 
strued as public grounds. Before the year was out he had 
been brought back again by a ministerial rearrangement 
costing much trouble and money, and more scandal, which 
had been undertaken solely with a view to his re-enlist- 
ment in office. Such a tribute to the terror of his eloquence 
might well have turned an older and steadier head ; and 
Lord North soon learned that Charles Fox, however far 
down he might sit at the Board of Treasury, took his 
own view of his own position in Parliament. Among 
the three recognised functions of subordinate officials, — 
to make a House, to keep a House, and to cheer minis- 
ters, — Fox never failed of the first when he was known 


to be going to speak, or of the second as long as he was 
on his legs ; but the only comfort and encouragement 
which his more exalted colleagues got from him was to 
find themselves planted in an inextricable, and some- 
times an absurd, situation whenever it suited his passing 
humour, or that queer conglomeration of prejudices and 
sentiments which he then called his immutable princi- 
ples. There could be but one end to such a connection. 
Fox was dismissed from office, without the consolation 
of having sacrificed himself to a cause ; without a fol- 
lowing; with no tribute of sympathy other than the 
ironical congratulations of an enormous circle of friends 
and acquaintances, who were only surprised that the 
event had not taken place weeks before ; and, (what was 
the most serious,) with nothing which the world around 
him would call a hope. He had sinned against the 
light, — such light as illuminated the path of the Wed- 
derburns and the Welbore Ellises from one overpaid 
post to another. He had not learned even from personal 
experience, (what wise men took for granted,) how bitter 
it was to have shut oneself out in the cold. He had 
shown that salary could not tempt him to surrender a 
whim. What sort of a colleague would he be if he ever 
came to indulge himself in a conscience ? Above all, 
he had proved that he could not follow. There was 
that about him which made it certain that no party should 
admit him into its ranks unless it was prepared to be 
led by him; and in a House of Commons where, during 
his career of joyous knight-errantry, he had tilted suc- 
cessively into the middle of every group and section, 
there were none who would not scout the notion of plac- 
ing themselves under his banner. His political pros- 
pect was now an avenue which opened on the desert of 
life-long opposition ; and if he did not know what that 
meant, Lord Holland was there to tell him. It was a 
cruel thought for the old statesman that a son of such 
hopes should already, and all for nothing, have made 
himself as complete a political outlaw as was the father 
at the close of a long career, during which, at any rate, 


he had acquired vast wealth, and had reached the height 
of power. 

The blow was the more crushing because it came at 
the moment when the family fortunes paid a signal 
penalty for the family failings. Lord Holland had just 
brought to a conclusion the gigantic operations by 
means of which he rescued his two eldest sons from the 
most pressing consequences of his indulgence and their 
own folly. Stephen's debts were very large ; but, with 
the best will in the world, he had not the genius for 
prodigality of his younger brother. Charles, before he 
came to man's estate, was the prince of spendthrifts in 
that heroic age of dissipation. He sate later than 
others at the faro table; he staked higher; and he shut 
his eyes more tightly against what was suspicious in a 
run of ill-luck which to the mind of the bystanders 
required explanation. He ordered larger consignments 
of silk and gold lace from across the Channel than any 
of his rivals in the game of fashion ; he kept a longer 
string of worse horses at Newmarket ; and, above all, 
he raised money with more magnificent indifference to 
the laws which govern that department of industry. 
Indeed, with regard to those laws he had his own 
theory, which for the time being fully satisfied him. 
"I remember," so Horace Walpole wrote in 1793, 
" that when Mr. Charles Fox and one or two more 
youths of brilliant genius first came to light, and into 
vast debts at play, they imparted to the world an im- 
portant secret which they had discovered. It was, that 
nobody needed to want money if they would pay enough 
for it. But, as they had made an incomplete calcula- 
tion, the interest so soon exceeded the principal that the 
system did not maintain its ground for above two or 
three years." 

The last of those years ended with the Christmas of 
1773; and, on or about that date, Lord Holland had 
brought to a close a minute and wide-reaching investi- 
gation of the all but innumerable claims upon his chil- 
dren's honour and his own sense of paternal obligation. 


The chief culprit assisted in the task with a dutiful 
eagerness which would have been more helpful if he 
had kept a stricter account of his multifarious transac- 
tions. It stands on something like record that, when 
Charles had given in what he regarded as a complete 
list of his liabilities, somebody else brought to light the 
existence of deferred annuities amounting to five thou- 
sand a year, which the grantees, on their part, had not 
forgotten. One hundred and forty thousand pounds 
had to be forthcoming before he was free from debt, 
and his friends from the bitter anxieties in which their 
affection for him had involved them. The young fel- 
lows, who had helped the two brothers to raise money, 
were regarded by Lord Holland, for doing that which 
fathers in all ages of the world have found it the hard- 
est to forgive, with a gratitude characteristic of the man. 1 
He made the immense sacrifice which the situation de- 
manded without hesitation and without complaint. But 
the shaft had gone home ; and Charles awoke to the 
knowledge that he had distressed and darkened the 
failing years, or rather months, of a father who had 
never wronged him unless by the extravagances of a 
love which could not be surpassed. His sorrow bore 
fruit in amended, though far from perfect, conduct, and 
in self-reproach which, though not obtrusive, was never 

1 There still exists a paper such as only one father, that ever lived, 
would have dictated without a thought of anger. The signature is that 
of a broken man. 

" I do hereby order direct and require you to sell and dispose of my 
Long Annuitys, and so much of my other Stock Estates and Effects, as 
will be sufficient to pay and discharge the debts of my son The Hon ble 
Charles James Fox not exceeding the sum of one hundred thousand 
pounds. And I do hereby authorize and empower you to pay and dis- 
charge such Debts to the amount aforesaid upon takeing an assignment, not 
only of the judgments Bonds and other securitys so to be paid and dis- 
charger], but allso of all such Bonds Judgments and other securitys wherein 
any other person or persons is or are bound or concerned, with or for my 
said son, to and for my own use and benefit. 

" Holland. 

" Dated this 26 th Nov r . 1773 
To John Powell Esq r . 

at the Pay Office." 


and nowhere disavowed. A year or two afterwards, 
during hot and grave debate, he was taunted in a full 
House of Commons with having ruined himself by the 
most scandalous vices. His assailant was a man of his 
own standing, a soldier, and, (what did not perhaps 
make the rebuke more acceptable,) a cousin. But 
Charles Fox, — a master of retort, and to whom a duel 
was a joke, as far as his own danger was concerned, — 
quietly and sadly replied that he confessed his errors, 
and wished from his heart that he could atone for them. 
Everything about Fox, whether it partook of good or 
evil, was on a scale so extensive that he was regarded 
rather as a portent, than an ordinary personage, even by 
the contemporaries who might meet him in the flesh, 
(and there was enough of it,) any day in the week, if 
they did not look for him too early in the morning. It 
is not to be wondered at that this generation — with its 
more rational habits, and its less marked individuality 
— should read of his early prodigality, his vehement 
penitence, his eloquence and energy, and the extraor- 
dinary strength of the friendship which through life he 
inspired and felt, as if they were the fictitious attributes 
of some mythical hero. But no one who has studied 
the letters which he wrote and received, from his boy- 
hood onward to his premature old age, can doubt that 
popular tradition, whatever it has done for or against 
Charles Fox, has not run in the direction of exaggera- 
tion. That he should have wasted an enormous fortune 
at four and twenty, and at thirty have been contending 
on equal terms with as masterful a sovereign as any 
who had ruled in England since the Tudors, seems per- 
fectly natural and accountable to those who follow his 
correspondence through all the stages of his moral and 
intellectual development. The sprawling boyish hand 
gradually acquired form and consistency, while the 
matter grew in weight and worth. But from first to 
last every sentence was straightforward, honest, and 
perfectly clear in its meaning ; and the character of the 
penmanship, so legible and flowing, and so instinct with 


good-humour, was enough to put the most dejected 
friend, (and he had always a supply of such,) in high 
spirits by the very sight of it. His early vices and 
follies, and in after days the frequent excesses of his 
public spirit, and the occasional perversity of his politi- 
cal conduct, are all told with the joyous, unconsciona- 
ble frankness of one who never knew what it was to 
be ashamed of that which at the time he was engaged 
in ; for when Charles Fox became ashamed of any- 
thing, he left off doing it. 

The communications which passed between him and 
his cronies, during the period when the oldest among 
them was five and twenty, are such as, it is to be feared, 
have often been indited and relished by clever young 
men of fashion bred in London and in Paris ; especially 
if, like Charles Fox, they were conversant with the 
temptations of both capitals. Letters of this class, 
when they have been written, as a rule have mercifully 
perished ; but his celebrity was already such, when he 
might still have been at Eton, and certainly ought to 
have been at Oxford, that every scrap of paper which 
proceeded from his pen was treasured like the familiar 
epistles of a prime minister. The most free and lively 
of the letters were addressed to the Richard Fitzpatrick 
who is celebrated as the friend of Fox, and who merited 
on his own account more fame than has befallen him. 

In one important respect the memory of Fox and 
Fitzpatrick rather gains than loses from the outspoken 
tone of these youthful disclosures. They prove, be- 
yond any manner of question, that the writers were the 
last people in the world to assume a virtue when they 
had it not. For that very reason, when we come to the 
later letters which, for many and many a long year to 
come, passed between the pair of kinsmen, we have an 
assurance that their views on state policy and public 
duty were heartfelt and genuine ; and they were views 
which, if ascertained to be sincere, are to the immortal 
honour of those who held them. The best comment 
on the character of the Fox papers as a whole is the 


effect which they produced on the only two men who 
are certainly known to have seen them in their entirety. 
What Lord Holland felt is briefly, but most sufficiently, 
recorded in bronze on the railing which separates 
the Kensington Road from the grounds of Holland 
House : — 

" Nephew of Fox and friend of Grey, 
Be this my deed of fame 
That those who know me best may say, 
'He tarnished neither name. 1 " 

These lines, almost as they stand in the inscription, 
were found after Lord Holland's death on his dress- 
ing table, and in his handwriting. Charles Fox, how- 
ever, was his uncle, and such an uncle as falls to 
the lot of few ; and the world may suspect the im- 
partiality of a nephew who resembled him in his noble 
and amiable nature, and held, to the full and beyond, 
his political creed. But Lord Holland made over the 
Fox manuscripts to the late Earl Russell, whose stand- 
ard of private and public virtue was as high as that 
which any man has ever maintained in practice through- 
out a long and honoured life. 1 And Earl Russell 
revered Fox as a statesman, admired him and respected 
him as an individual, and entertained for him a personal 
affection which is rare indeed in a case where the grave 
has forbidden the opportunity of personal intercourse 
and knowledge. 

The correspondence of Charles Fox may be divided 

1 The quotations in this chapter, and in the Second of the Appen- 
dices, are almost entirely from unpublished letters. I am unable ade- 
quately to express the gratitude which I felt when the late Dowager 
Countess Russell placed the Fox manuscripts at my disposal for the pur- 
poses of this book, and my pride at the confidence which, in so doing, 
she thought fit to repose in me. Lady Agatha Russell has done me the 
great honour of continuing the kindness which her mother showed me. 
The letters referring to the period covered by the American Revolution, 
though interesting and important, are few in comparison with those 
which commence when Fox became Secretary of State in 1782 ; which 
succeed each other thenceforward in continuous order ; and which supply 
the matter for three out of the four volumes of Earl Russell's Memorials 
anJ Correspondence of Charles James Fox. 


into three very unequal portions. First came that of 
his scapegrace epoch, which began earlier than is easily 
credible, and ended far sooner than is generally sup- 
posed. Then, when his own ruin, and still more the 
sorrow which he had brought upon others, had taught 
him to look life gravely in the face, there succeeded 
the period of eager and anxious repentance. That 
period was a short one, for two reasons. First, because 
he was a man who, when he was minded to do right, 
did it, and did not talk about it ; and next, because 
those whom he most warmly loved, and had most deeply 
pained, passed beyond the reach of his protestations. 
And, afterwards, until his life and his public career were 
terminated together, there followed an enormous mass of 
letters, dealing openly and copiously with many subjects, 
but with none in which he did not take a keen and 
unaffected interest; — letters clear and easy in style; 
lofty in tone where the matter demanded it; and ani- 
mated everywhere by the same fire which, in his early 
correspondence, was expended in vivifying less valuable 
and much more questionable material. 

In that early correspondence not the least amusing, 
and very far from the most unedifying, passages throw a 
light upon the otherwise inconceivable process by which 
a parcel of boys contrived to get rid of several hundred 
thousand pounds in a few years, without any of it re- 
maining in their own circle to enrich some of them at 
the expense of the others. Charles and Stephen Fox, 
Richard Fitzpatrick and his brother Lord Ossory, Lord 
Carlisle, Uvedale Price and Mr. Crawford, were one 
and all men of strict honour according to the code 
which was then professed in aristocratic circles more 
universally than it was practised. His own enemy, in 
a warfare which knew no truce, each of them robbed 
and injured himself, and himself only. It is true that, 
if money had to be raised, and a name was wanted on 
a bill, none of them would scruple to make a request 
which, for a friend to refuse a friend, was an idea that 
their imagination could not even contemplate. But 

VOL. I. L 


they would no more have cheated at cards, or ordered 
a horse to be pulled on the racecourse, than they would 
have declined a challenge, or slunk away from the' table 
when the wine was passing and the punch brewing. 
They had, however, titled and be-ribboned associates 
around them to whom the laws of honour were even 
less binding than the Ten Commandments. Older men, 
who had diced and drunk with their fathers in the 
days of Carteret, and who now liked the lads for their 
own sake, were indignant at the treatment of which 
they were the victims, and astonished at the blindness 
which prevented them from detecting it. But there 
are traces in his correspondence that even Charles Fox 
was not so simple as he appeared. There is a very 
perceptible distinction between the tone in which he 
and his coaevals referred to those whom they trusted 
as gentlemen, and that which they reserved for cer- 
tain high-born sharpers whom they made no pretence 
of liking or respecting ; and whose title to be paid, when 
they themselves were in cash, they ranked far below the 
claims of a loyal gamester or a true sportsman, and 
only just above those of an honest shop-keeper. 

The time had come, soon, but none too soon, when 
this comedy of manners ended, and the historical drama 
began. It opened with a scene of filial contrition like 
that which took place in the room adjoining the Jeru- 
salem Chamber of the Palace at Westminster. 1 The 
letters from Charles Fox to his mother Lady Holland, 
during the winter of 1773-4, breathe the spirit of the 
penitence which does exhale itself in words ; but it 
was already fully late to redeem his past in the quarter 

l " If I do feign, 
O let me in my present wildness die, 
And never live to show th' incredulous world 
The noble change that I have purposed ! " 

Some passages from letters written by Charles Fox to his mother, after his 
debts had been paid by Lord Holland, and at the time when her own 
health had visibly begun to fail, are given in the Second Appendix to this 


where he cared most to make reparation. That which, 
in spite of all that could be said about the standard of 
conduct prevailing among its members, had been among 
the happiest of homes, was on the eve of being broken 
up for ever. Lord Holland was dying, with even less 
reluctance than he had anticipated. He had long been 
pleasing himself with the reflection that his departure 
would leave his children richer, or, (as now was the best 
which could be hoped,) less embarrassed than in his life- 
time ; although he had shrunk from death for the sake 
of the wife who could not live without him. But now 
the long romance, whose earlier chapters, thirty years 
before, had brightened Downing Street with a glimpse 
of Arcadia, and had forced the entire fashionable world 
to take sides in the most fascinating, but by no means 
the least perilous, of controversies, was drawing to an 
appropriate close. 1 The lovers who had braved the 
Court and the Prime Minister, and disobeyed angry 
parents in days when the anger of parents, who were 
a Duke and Duchess, went for much, had set forth on 
their common journey through life in the spirit of true 
fellow-travellers. A whole generation of warm friends 
and implacable enemies united in admiring and envying 
their devotion and their constancy. 

"We'll spring together, and we'll bear one fruit: 
One joy shall make us smile, and one grief mourn ; 
One age go with us, and one hour of death 
Shall close our eyes, and one grave make us happy." 

As far as lay with themselves, they kept that pledge to 
the letter ; and what was beyond their power Heaven 
did for them. On the first day of July, 1774, Lord 
Holland passed away painlessly and calmly, as one tired 
out in mind and body ; and Lady Holland, who had 
long suffered terribly from an internal cancer, did 
not outlive the month. 

Their eldest son, who had all along been regarded 
as the worst of lives by those who had a professional 

1 Chapter i. of the Early History of Charles James Fox. 



interest in ascertaining the chances of longevity, died 
before the year was out. He left a young widow, 
daughter of the Earl of Upper Ossory, and sister to 
Richard Fitzpatrick. Singularly sweet and refined, 
young Lady Holland is never mentioned by the auda- 
cious cynics, who were the chroniclers of the day, with- 
out a genuine expression of liking and esteem. Her 
little son, whose appearance in the world terrified 
Charles's creditors out of their forbearance, and set roll- 
ing the financial avalanche which nearly overwhelmed 
the family, grew up into the Lord Holland whose con- 
nection with Fox presents an example of what the 
relations between nephew and uncle at the very best 
may be. 1 In the meantime, however, the loss which 
had befallen him was a crowning sorrow to the young 
statesman. Stephen had stood by the brother, of whom 
he was so proud, in fair weather and in foul ; in the 
Commons he had always zealously adopted, even at the 
risk of caricaturing it, the policy which pleased Charles 
at the moment ; and by his death he now left him with- 
out a party in the Lords. There was something absurd 
about the poor fellow who was dead ; but Fox, (as his 
married life so curiously showed,) did not insist on per- 
fection in those whom he loved. Now that Stephen 
had gone, the home of his boyhood was desolate ; and 
he went forth into the world in a mood of stern and 
melancholy purpose of which a twelvemonth before 
none who knew him would have believed him capable. 
Good resolutions are ill to keep in bad company ; 
and it would have gone hard with the young man's 
aspirations after better things if he had not cut himself 
adrift from the reckless ofTicial crew who were enjoying 
themselves at their comfortable moorings before they 
started on the most disastrous enterprise on which a 
British Government ever deliberately embarked. Of 

1 It did not take Charles long to forgive the parents for the sex of their 
baby. " My love to Lady Mary, who I am glad to hear is so well, as well 
as her son ; to whom, now he is come, I wish as well as if he had been a 
daughter." — Charles Fox to Stephen ; December 24, 1773. 


the Ministers who had force, wit, and spirit, the best 
made no professions of virtue, and had a very easy 
standard of practice ; and not a few were as competent 
preceptors in evil as ever called a main or pushed a 
bottle. The most decent and respectable of their col- 
leagues were not of a mental calibre to exercise any 
influence, except that of repulsion, over one who still 
was at an age when the taste is only too fastidious with 
regard to anything dull and strait-laced. It was useless 
to expect that a youth, who had taken his first lessons 
in the art and aims of politics from the inimitable table- 
talk of Lord Holland, should seek an antidote to such 
pleasant poison by sitting at the feet of Lord Bathurst, 
a very feeble figure in our line of strong Chancellors, 1 
or by doing that which George Selwyn would have de- 
scribed as singing psalms with Lord Dartmouth. Fox, 
being just what he was, could have learned nothing but 
harm from those whom he had left behind him in office; 
and fortunate it was for him that the manner of his 
parting from them gave no room for repentance and 

Over and above the negative advantage of being for- 
bidden henceforward to look up to Rigby and Sandwich 
as his models and his mentors, there was awaiting him 
a privilege which it only required that he should stretch 
out his hand to take ; the acceptance of which, (for he 
was not blind to his opportunities,) became the source of 
most that was gracious in his life, and of all that is 
enduring in his fame. That privilege was the personal 
friendship of Lord Rockingham and his followers. 
Aristocrats in the best sense of the word, these men 
were worthy of their high position ; and the more prom- 

1 Lord Campbell had a kindly feeling for the memory of Lord Bathurst, 
and made out as fair a case for him as the conscience of a biographer, 
versed in the traditions of the Inns of Court, would permit. " It should be 
borne in mind," Lord Campbell wrote, "that, as far as the public could 
observe, he performed almost decently the duties of the offices in which, to 
the surprise of mankind, he was placed ; affording a memorable example 
of what maybe accomplished by a dull discretion." — Lives of the Lord 
Chancellors, chapter clii. 


inent among them were marked out from self-seeking 
and dissolute contemporaries by their disinterested po- 
litical action, and their blameless private habits. They 
had no taste for the amusements to which the bolder 
and more important among the Ministers, even as 
elderly people, were addicted ; and their repugnance to 
such a course of life had almost as much to do with 
their estrangement from those Ministers as any diver- 
gence in policy and opinions. 1 

More desirable companions than the Rockinghams, 
for a young man of Charles Fox's character and aspira- 
tions, could not possibly be found. Horace Walpole, 
whose testimony as a witness for character was conclu- 
sive, whatever it might be when he spoke against it, 
thus wrote of the Duke of Richmond, at a time when 
he was at variance with that nobleman on the two burn- 
ing questions of the hour. " I worship his thousand 
virtues beyond any man's. He is intrepid and tender, 
inflexible and humane, beyond example. I do not know 
which is most amiable, his heart or conscience. He 
ought to be the great model of all our factions. No 
difference in sentiments between him and his friends 
makes the slightest impression on his attachment to 
them." Of Lord John Cavendish Walpole says : " I 
have often disagreed with him, but always honoured his 
integrity. Surely that is the fountain of principles. 
Whatever has grown on his margin, the source has 
remained limpid and undefiled." Sir George Savile has 
been justly described as the model to all time of a coun- 
try gentleman in Parliament; and Lord Rockingham's 
career marks the highest point to which the respect and 
affection of those among whom he lived and worked 

1 Rigby, earlier in his life, was at the pains to describe his nightly 
round ; how he drank till past three in the morning, when, — finding that 
no one cared to sit any longer, except one man who could not sit upright, 
— he went to the Ridotto, and at length, most reluctantly, to his bed; 
and how he was abroad again in time for a cock-fight, where he won forty 
pounds in ready money. That was the life which Rigby formerly led ; 
and in 1775 he, and Sandwich, and Rochford led very much such a life 


ever carried a man whose health, tastes, and disposition 
were the opposite of all that the requirements of politics 
demand. It was inscribed under his statue by a friendly, 
but not a flattering, hand, that his virtues were his arts. 
To be one of such a fraternity was an honour and an 
advantage from which Charles Fox had hitherto been 
excluded. He had struck too hard on the wrong side 
to please men who contended for principle where he 
was only seeking an excuse for forcing his way into the 
centre of a faction fight. But when he had finally left 
the ranks of that Ministry against whose example their 
own attitude was a living protest ; — when he stood 
alone, unhappy and in earnest, among the ruins of his 
joyous and careless past; — then the Rockinghams be- 
gan to watch his course with interest, and soon with 
sympathy. At the earliest indication which he gave of 
a desire to enroll himself in their band, they received 
him with open arms. He became first the comrade, then 
the close ally, and at length the adored and undisputed 
leader of men from whom, in whatever relation he might 
act with them, there was nothing but good to learn. 

The immediate change in his habits, it must be ad- 
mitted, stopped many degrees below the mark of perfec- 
tion. He still lived on credit ; which he could not very 
well help if he was to live at all. He still entered in the 
book at Brooks's Club his fifty-guinea bets that war with 
France would not break out for two years ; that Lord 
North would have ceased to be Prime Minister within 
the twelvemonth ; and that he himself would be called 
to the Bar before four given peers were all either dead 
or married. He still played high, and long, and often. 
He still attended race-meetings with a sort of religious 
regularity, and gradually built up for himself a reputa- 
tion of being the best handicapper in England. He 
liked going to his bed as little as ever, though he con- 
formed so far to the received theories regarding the 
necessity of sleep that, when once there, he left it later 
than had been his wont. He continued to spend his 
waking hours with those who enjoyed existence; but he 


did not distinguish, as rigidly as might have been desired, 
between the forms of enjoyment favoured by the widely 
different circles in all of which he was ever and equall)? 
welcome. His habitual associates were men of honour, 
and men of culture, after the school of St. James's Street ; 
and as time went on, and faction waxed hotter, he con- 
sorted more and more by preference with Whigs. It 
would be impossible for a student of the exuberant liter- 
ature which periodically issued from Brooks's to deny 
that that haunt of wit and fashion was no monastery. 
Among the younger members of the party, which after 
a time monopolised the Club, there were plenty of jovial 
blades whose notions on a most essential point of moral- 
ity were not merely defective, but positively inverted. 
It has been said, without any great malice or exaggeration, 
that the political creed of some of them began and ended 
in the preference for a stout man, who admired women, 
to a thin man, who was insensible to their charms. 

But the leaders of established fame and authority 
with whom Charles Fox consulted behind the scenes on 
the strategy of the session, and by whose side in the 
House of Commons he carried on the arduous and thank- 
less work of opposition, were men whose companionship 
was an education in all that was right and becoming. 
Advising with Richmond on the draft of a protest in the 
Lords ; arranging with Savile the list of Resolutions to 
be submitted to a county meeting ; corresponding with 
Burke about the line to be taken on the hustings ; and 
then going northwards to Soho for an evening with 
Johnson and Gibbon, Garrick and Reynolds, at the 
immortal Club into which the kings of art and of letters 
had elected the young fellow at a moment when his for- 
tunes were at their very lowest ; — such was now the 
course of Charles Fox's day, when he spent it well ; and, 
as he grew in years, the time which he employed bore 
ever a larger proportion to the time which he wasted. 
His elders loved him none the less because he was a 
learner in the intercourse of society, and never inten- 
tionally a teacher ; for what he had to tell mankind he 


was quite satisfied with imparting to them five times a 
week in the House of Commons. He tended steadily 
and perceptibly throughout his life towards higher views 
and quieter ways, until his sweet and lofty nature had 
lost all trace of what had been disastrous, and nearly 
fatal, to him in his early circumstances and training. 
Before he was old, or even elderly, a moralist would 
have been hard to please who would not allow him to 
be a good man ; and assuredly the most imaginative of 
novelists could not have invented a better fellow. 

Of those forces which work for the improvement of 
character the most powerful is the pursuit of an object 
of a nature to tax all the faculties, and fix them over 
a long period in one continuous strain of exertion. 
Such an object awaited Charles Fox outside the gates 
of office ; and it was the best present that Fortune ever 
made him. It was full time for him, — and for every 
one, high or humble, who had in him the making of a 
true citizen, — that some work worth the doing should 
be set before them. The apathy of the people, which 
Burke deplored, was largely clue to the transient and 
personal character of even the most serious among the 
questions which of recent years had divided the State. 
The furious popular excitement, and the vast amount of 
Parliamentary time, which had been expended on the 
seating and unseating of Wilkes, had in the end lowered 
the tone and relaxed the springs of politics. Mem- 
bers of the Opposition had been forced, by no fault 
of their own, to make a champion of one about whom 
the best which could be said was that he represented, 
— what he did not possess or profess, — a principle. 
Even the multitude were weary of staring at, and al- 
most ashamed of having helped to feed, the conflagra- 
tion which for eleven livelong years had blazed and 
flickered in the train of that graceless hero. The party 
hostile to the Court was now passing through a reac- 
tion akin to that which the Reformers half a cen- 
tury afterwards experienced, when the passions which 
raged over the rights and wrongs of Queen Caroline 


had died away, and had left no solid gain to liberty 
behind them. 

But in the spring of 1774 events were at hand which 
broke the slumbers, and tried the mettle, of all true 
patriots in the kingdom. A controversy was at their 
door, unlimited in its scope, inexorable in its demands 
on their attention ; and of all men, inside Parliament 
and out, to none did it come pregnant with greater issues 
than to Fox. It was fortunate for him now that, 
during his apprenticeship in debate, the topics of his 
choice had been trivial and ephemeral; and that, 
possibly by a wholesome instinct, he had left graver 
problems alone. It mattered little which side he had 
espoused on the question whether an unlucky printer 
was to be sent to jail, or committed to the charge of the 
Serjeant-at-Arms; but it mattered very much indeed 
that, on the transcendent decision whether America was 
to be enslaved or pacified, Fox should have nothing to 
unsay. He came to the great argument fresh and 
unhampered, his mind and body full of elasticity and 
strength. Without misgiving, without flagging, and 
with small thought of self, he devoted an eloquence 
already mature, and an intellect daily and visibly ripen- 
ing, to a cause which more than any one else he con- 
tributed to make intelligible, attractive, and at length 
irresistible. That cause at its commencement found him 
with a broken career. Its triumph placed him in the 
position of the first subject, and even, (considering that 
his principal antagonist had been the King himself,) of 
the first man, in the country. 



There was one man who possessed the talents, the 
turn of character, the official position, and the intimate 
personal acquaintance both with England and America 
which qualified him to be mediator between the public 
opinion of the two countries ; and he had all the will in 
the world to perform the office. Out of the last seven- 
teen years Franklin had spent fourteen in London as 
agent for Pennsylvania ; and of late he had been agent 
for Georgia and Massachusetts as well. The ambassa- 
dors accredited to St. James's from foreign Courts 
treated him like an esteemed member of their own 
body. He was at home in the best society in town and 
country, awing every company by his great age and 
pleasing them by his immortal youth. The ministers 
of state, with whom he had business, minded their be- 
haviour in the presence of one who had talked with Sir 
William Wyndham before they themselves had been 
born or thought of. Men of letters, and men of science, 
could not have enough of the reminiscences of a vet- 
eran who fifty years before had heard Mandeville dis- 
course at his club, and had been shown by Sir Hans 
Sloane over his collection of curiosities at a time when 
the British Museum was yet in the future. People 
hardly remembered that he was a colonist, and were as 
proud of his European reputation as if he had been the 
native of an English county, and the scholar of an Eng- 
lish university. He returned the feeling. He loved 
our country, and all parts of it. At Dublin he had 



been greeted with the irresistible welcome which Irish- 
men bestow upon those to whom they wish to do the 
honours of Ireland. He had spent in Scotland the six 
happiest weeks of his life ; and there, if circumstances 
had permitted, he would gladly have passed the rest 
of it. And as for England, — " Of all the enviable 
things," he said, " I envy it most its people. Why 
should that pretty island, which is but like a stepping- 
stone in a brook, scarce enough of it above water to 
keep one's shoes dry, enjoy in almost every neighbour- 
hood more sensible, virtuous, and elegant minds than 
we can collect in ranging a hundred leagues of our vast 
forests?" 1 

He had long looked forward to the evening of life, 
the last hours of which, in his cheerful view, were sure 
to be the most joyous ; and he had pleased himself with 
the anticipation of dying, as he had been born and had 
always lived, in "the King's dominions." But now he 
foresaw storms and troubles, and, at near seventy years 
of age, he did not expect to see the end of them ; as the 
Ministers might read in a letter which they had thought 
it worth their while to detain and violate. That appre- 
hension lent force and earnestness to the efforts which 
he made in every quarter where his influence could 
penetrate. On the one hand he adjured the New Eng- 

1 In our own time, as in Franklin's, Americans are apt to express their 
kindly sentiments towards England in diminutives, like a Russian who calls 
the Empress his Little Mother. 

" An islet is a world," she said, 

" When glory with its dust has blended, 

And Britain keeps her noble dead 

Till earth and sea and skies are rended." 

• • • • • • 

Nay, let our brothers of the West 

Write smiling in their florid pages ; 
'One-half her soil has walked the rest 

In poets, heroes, martyrs, sages.' " 

The verses are by Wendell Holmes ; and the idea, or something like it, 
has passed across the fancy of many a one of his countrymen beneath the 
limes of Stratford-on-Avon churchyard, or in the transepts of Westminster 


landers to reflect that, just as among friends every 
affront was not worth a duel, so between the mother- 
country and the colonies every mistake in government, 
and every encroachment on right, was not worth a re- 
bellion. On the other hand, he took care that any Brit- 
ish statesman to whose ears he could obtain access 
should hear the words of reason and soberness ; and the 
best of them regarded him as a valuable coadjutor in 
preserving the peace of the Empire. Chatham, in the 
House of Lords, openly said that, if he were first minis- 
ter, he should not scruple publicly to call to his assist- 
ance a man whom all Europe held in high estimation 
for his knowledge and wisdom, and classed with Boyle 
and Newton as an honour, not to the English nation 
only, but to human nature. 

Most unfortunately, at this exact moment, Franklin 
became the centre of one of those unhappy scandals 
which in a season of political perturbation are certain 
to occur ; and which are made the very most of by able 
men who mean mischief, and by the multitude, who do 
not understand the deeper issues, but can be voluble 
on a personal question. There had reached his hands 
a mass of correspondence which proved beyond any 
manner of doubt that Hutchinson and Oliver, the Gov- 
ernor and Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts, had 
persistently applied themselves to inflame the minds 
of the home authorities against the colony, and had 
been profuse in the suggestion of schemes framed with 
the object of destroying its liberties. The letters were 
private ; but Franklin, as agent for Massachusetts, 
thought it mcumbent upon him to send them to the 
Speaker of her Assembly ; and he continued to think 
so until his life's end, though it was not a subject on 
which he loved to talk. It is a sound rule that confi- 
dential correspondence should, under no circumstances 
whatever, be used for the purpose of damaging a political 
adversary. In our own day, private letters attributed 
to a celebrated public man were printed in a great news- 
paper ; and the step was defended on the ground that 


the writer was a public enemy, whose exposure was 
demanded by the interests of the State. That argu- 
ment must have presented itself in its utmost force to 
the agent of a colony, when he lighted on the discovery 
that men, — born and reared within its confines, eating 
its bread and charged with its welfare, — had done their 
utmost to misrepresent its people, to destroy its char- 
tered rights, and to bring upon it the insult, the hardship, 
and the fearful perils of a penal military occupation. 

And, again, it must be remembered that the sanctity 
of the Post Office was then a transparent fiction. No 
man's correspondence was safe ; and those who suffered 
the most were tempted, when the occasion offered, to 
repay their persecutors in kind. The confidential clerks 
of the Postmaster-General were sometimes engaged 
twelve hours on a stretch in rifling private letters. The 
King, to judge by the endorsements in his own hand, — 
which marked the hour and minute when he received 
each packet of intercepted documents, and the hour and 
minute when he returned it to the Office, — must have 
passed a great deal of his time in reading them. A 
politician, when his turn came to be out in the cold, 
recognised the liability to have his letters opened as 
one of the incidents of Opposition, and did not expect 
even the poor compliment of having them reclosed 
with any decent appearance of concealing the treatment 
to which they had been subjected. "To avoid the im- 
pertinence of a Post Office," wrote Lord Charlemont to 
Edmund Burke, " I take the opportunity of sending 
this by a private hand;" and Hans Stanley, a public 
servant of considerable note in his day, complained to 
Mr. Grenville that all his correspondence, important 
or trivial, " had been opened in a very awkward and 
bungling manner." 

Bold men, with a secure social position and a touch 
of humour, made use of the opportunity in order to give 
their opponents in the Cabinet a piece of their mind 
under circumstances such that it could not be resented. 
A friend of George Selwyn regaled him with a persona) 


anecdote, rather abstruse in itself, and rendered hope- 
lessly unintelligible by being couched in bad Latin. " I 
wrote this," he says, " to perplex Lord Grantham, who 
may probably open the letter." " I don't know," Rigby 
told the Duke of Bedford, " who is to read this letter, 
whether French ministers or English ministers ; but I 
am not guarded in what I write, as I choose the latter 
should know through every possible channel the utter 
contempt I bear them." 1 But a system which was no 
worse than a tiresome and offensive joke to men of the 
world, who wore swords, and met the Postmaster-Gen- 
eral on equal terms every other evening at White's or 
Almack's, had its real terrors for humble people. A 
gentleman wrote from London to New York, with noth- 
ing more treasonous to say than that he was concerned 
at the alarming and critical situation. He expressed 
himself, however, as fearing that his American letters, 
to judge by the red wax over a black wafer, were 
opened in the Post Office ; and he justly observed that 
intercourse between friend and friend was rendered pre- 
carious by such conduct on the part of the authorities. 
Franklin himself had the same grievance against the 
British Government, and took it very coolly. Many 
months before the war broke out he had occasion thus 
to warn his sister in Boston : " I am apprehensive that 
the letters between us, though very innocent ones, are 
intercepted. They might restore to me yours at least, 
after reading them ; especially as I never complain of 
broken, patched-up seals." "I am told," he said on 
another occasion, "that Administration is possessed of 
most of my letters sent, or received, on public affairs for 
some years past ; copies of them having been obtained 
from the files of the several Assemblies, or as they 
passed through the Post Office. I do not condemn 
their ministerial industry, or complain of it." 

1 The letter, good reading like everything of Rigby's, referred to the 
composition of Rockingham's first Government. "Their Board of Trade," 
he wrote, " is not yet fixed, except Lord Dartmouth for its head, who I 
don't hear has yet recommended Whitefield for the bishopric of Quebec." 


Whether Franklin was justified in his own sight by 
high considerations of policy, or by the bad example of 
the British Post Office, his conduct required no defence 
in the view of his employers beyond the water. He 
had intended the letters to be seen by about as many 
pairs of eyes as those which, in London official circles, 
had the privilege of prying into his own correspondence ; 
and his object was to enlighten certain leading men of 
the colony, belonging to both parties, with regard to the 
character of the Governor, and to put them on their 
guard against his machinations. But such secrets are 
hard to keep when men's minds are in a ferment, and 
when great events are in the air. The Massachusetts 
Assembly insisted on having the letters. On the second 
of June, 1773, the House, sitting within closed doors, 
heard them read by Samuel Adams, and voted, by a 
hundred and one to five, that their tendency and design 
was to subvert the constitution of the Government, and 
to introduce arbitrary power into the Province. Before 
another month was out they had been discussed in all 
the farmhouses, and denounced from almost all the pul- 
pits. They came upon the community as a revelation 
from the nether world, and everywhere aroused unaf- 
fected astonishment and regret, which soon gave place 
to resentment and alarm. " These men," (it was said 
with a unanimity which the majority of twenty to one in 
the Assembly inadequately represented,) " no strangers 
or foreigners, but bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, 
born and educated among us," have alienated from us 
the affections of our sovereign, have destroyed the har- 
mony and good-will which existed between Great Britain 
and Massachusetts, and, having already caused blood- 
shed in our streets, will, if unchecked, plunge our coun- 
try into all the horrors of civil war. 

The sentiments of the colony were embodied by the 
Assembly in an address to the King, stating the case 
against Hutchinson and Oliver in terms which cannot 
be described as immoderate, and still less as disrespect- 
ful ; and humbly, but most pointedly, praying for their 


removal from office. Franklin placed the petition in 
the hands of the Secretary of State, for presentation to 
his Majesty at the first convenient opportunity; and 
Dartmouth, in return, expressed his pleasure that a sin- 
cere disposition prevailed in the people of Massachu- 
setts to be on good terms with the mother-country, and 
his earnest hope that the time was at no great distance 
when every ground of uneasiness would cease, and tran- 
quillity and happiness would be restored. 

Dartmouth's intuitions, as usual, were good and wise. 
The opportunity had come for the mother-country to 
assume an attitude of true superiority. An ancient and 
powerful State, in its dealings with dependencies whose 
social system is still primitive, and whose public men are 
as yet untrained, can afford to make allowance for faults 
of taste, or even for breaches of official custom and pro- 
priety. But dignified self-restraint was not then the 
order of the day in high places. The complaint of 
Massachusetts against her Governors was referred to 
the Privy Council, and the Solicitor-General appeared 
on behalf of Hutchinson and Oliver to oppose the 
prayer of the petition. That Solicitor-General was 
Wedderburn, who, before he joined the Government, had 
told them in debate that their policy would inevitably 
ruin the country by the total loss of its American 
dominions ; and that, if for reasons which could not be 
made public such a policy must be continued, Lord 
North would have to remain in office, as no man of 
honour or respectability would undertake to do the 
duties of his situation. 

It was put about town that the famous advocate 
intended to handle Dr. Franklin in a style which would 
be worth the hearing. Privy Councillors attended in 
such numbers that they would almost have made a quo- 
rum in the House of Commons. At the bar stood rows 
of distinguished strangers, more worthy of the title than 
those who are ordinarily designated by it on such occa- 
sions, for Burke, and Priestley, and Jeremy Bentham 
were among them. The ante-room and passages were 

VOL. I. M 


thronged with people who had to content themselves 
with learning, from the tones of his voice, that a great 
orator was speaking contemptuously of some one. For 
the Solicitor was as good as his word. Leaving aside 
the merits of the question, he directed against Franklin 
a personal attack which was a masterpiece of invective. 
The judges in the case, encouraged by the undisguised 
delight of their Lord President, rolled in their seats and 
roared with laughter. Lord North, alone among the 
five and thirty, listened with gravity in his features and, 
(it may be believed,) with something like death in his 
heart. Franklin, as a friend who closely observed his 
bearing relates, "stood conspicuously erect, without the 
smallest movement of any part of his body. The 
muscles of his face had been previously composed, so 
as to afford a tranquil expression of countenance, and 
he did not suffer the slightest alteration of it to appear 
during the continuance of the speech." He wore a full 
dress suit of spotted Manchester velvet, which that 
evening retired into the recesses of his wardrobe. It 
reappeared on the sixth of February, 1778, when he 
affixed his signature to that treaty with France by 
which the United States took rank as an independent 
nation, and obtained a powerful ally. So smart a coat 
attracted the notice of his brother Commissioners, accus- 
tomed to see him in the staid and almost patriarchal 
costume which all Paris knew. They conjectured, and 
rightly, that it was the first day, since the scene at the 
Privy Council Office, on which he cared to be reminded 
of what had occurred there. 1 

The immediate effect of Wedderburn's harangue, as 
an appeal to men sitting in a judicial capacity, has in 
our country never been surpassed ; and its ultimate con- 
sequences went far beyond the special issue towards 
which it was directed. Twenty years afterwards, when 
Franklin's pamphlet entitled " Rules for Reducing a 
great Empire to a small one " was republished in Lon- 
don, the editor paid to Lord Loughborough a compli- 

1 Attention is invited to the Third Appendix at the end of the volume. 


ment which, as Alexander Wedderburn, he had justly- 
earned. " When I reflect," such were the words of the 
Dedication, " on your Lordship's magnanimous conduct 
towards the author of the following Rules, there is a 
peculiar propriety in dedicating this new edition of 
them to a nobleman whose talents were so eminently 
useful in procuring the emancipation of our American 
brethren." * 

In such a temper, and with such an example to guide 
them, the Houses of Parliament applied themselves to 
the question of the hour. When Privy Councillors, duly 
appointed to try an issue in their judicial capacity, had 
laughed the colonists out of court, it was not to be 
expected that the rank and file of a political assembly 
would grant them a patient, or even so much as a 
decent, hearing. England had open before her one 
policy which was prudent, and another which, at the 
worst, was not ignoble. Clemency and forbearance 
were her true wisdom ; but, if she resolved to punish, 
she should have done so in a manner worthy of a great 
nation. The crime, since a crime it was adjudged to be, 
was common to the four chief cities of America. Phila- 
delphia had led the way in voting for resistance ; 
Charleston had followed suit ; and it was not till weeks 
had elapsed that Boston, on the same day as New York, 
adopted the Resolutions which had been passed in 
Philadelphia. Those Resolutions had been made good 
in action, by each of the places concerned, with just as 

1 Nearly thirty years afterwards Charles Fox reminded the House of 
Commons that fine speeches sometimes cost the country more than the 
gratification of listening to them was worth. " I remember a time," (he 
said,) " when the whole of the Privy Council came away, throwing up 
their caps, and exulting in an extraordinary manner at a speech made by 
the present Lord Rosslyn, (then Mr. Wedderburn ;) and an examina- 
tion of Doctor Franklin, in which that respectable character was most 
uncommonly badgered. But we paid very dear fur that splendid speci- 
men of eloquence, and all its attendant tropes, figures, metaphors, and 
hyperboles ; for then came the bill ; and in the end we lost all our 
American colonies, a hundred millions of money, and a hundred thousand 
of our brave fellow-subjects." 



much, or as little, violence as under the circumstances 
of the special case was needed in order to do the work 
thoroughly. The British Ministry should have resorted 
to forgiveness and concession, or to a general and im- 
partial severity. But neither of those two courses 
pleased the King and his advisers ; and the opportunity 
was taken for exacting a vindictive penalty from one 
small, exposed, and, (as it was believed,) unwarlike and 
defenceless community. 

Boston had done the same as the others, and had done 
it under the provocation of having been dragooned, in 
time of universal peace, for faults to which not one 
member of Parliament in ten could have put a name, if 
he had set his mind to think them over. But, where 
antipathy exists, men soon find reasons to justify it; 
and the drop-scene of the impending American drama, 
as presented to British eyes, was a picture of the New 
England character daubed in colours which resembled 
the original as little as they matched each other. The 
men of Massachusetts were sly and turbulent, puritans 
and scoundrels, pugnacious ruffians and arrant cowards. 
That was the constant theme of the newspapers, and the 
favourite topic with those officers of the army of occu- 
pation whose letters had gone the round of London 
clubs and English country houses. The archives of the 
Secretary of State were full of trite calumnies and fool- 
ish prophecies. Bostonians, (so Lord Dartmouth was 
informed by an officious correspondent,) were not only 
the worst of subjects, but the most immoral of men. 
" If large and loud professions of the Gospel be an 
exact criterion of vital religion, they are the best people 
on earth. But if meekness, gentleness, and patience 
constitute any part, those qualities are not found there. 
If they could maintain a state of independence, they 
would soon be at war among themselves." 1 Such was 
the forecast with regard to a city whose inhabitants 
were destined through a long future to enjoy in quite 
exceptional measure the blessings of mutual esteem, and 

1 Dartmouth Manuscripts ; vol. ii., Letter of February, 1774. 


of the internal peace which ensues from it. It was a 
specimen of the predictions which at that moment 
obtained belief in Parliament and in the country. 1 

The cue was given from above. On the seventh of 
March, 1774, Lord North communicated to the House 
of Commons a royal message, referring to the unwar- 
rantable practices concerted and carried on in North 
America, and dwelling more particularly on the violent 
proceedings at the town and port of Boston in the prov- 
ince of Massachusetts Bay. The fact was that George 
the Third had seen General Gage, fresh from America ; 
one of those mischievous public servants who know a 
colony so much better than the colonists know it them- 
selves. " His language," said the King, " was very con- 
sonant to his character of an honest determined man. 
He says they will be lyons, whilst we are lambs ; but, if 
we take the resolute part, they will undoubtedly prove 
very weak." His Majesty therefore desired Lord North 
not to repeat what he described as "the fatal compliance 
in 1766," — that repeal of the Stamp Act to which, in 
the royal view, all the difficulties of the present situation 
were owing. The Minister was directed to send for the 
General, and hear his ideas on the mode of compelling 
the Bostonians to acquiesce submissively in whatever 
fate might be reserved for them. 

1 Public writers, who supported the Ministry, endeavoured to affix the 
sole responsibility on Boston. Jonas Hanway replied to Paine's celebrated 
pamphlet by a Volume entitled "Common Sense ; in nine Conferences 
between a British Merchant, and a candid Merchant of America, in their 
private capacities as friends." The book included a conversation which 
had been overheard between a Shopman and a Mechanic. 

" Mechanic. It is the New Englanders who make all the pother ? " 

" Shopman. They are at the bottom of it. I do not see what any of 
the other colonies have to do with the punishment of an offence which 
they are not accused of. Their lawful trade is left as free as ever ; and 
of Boston the punishment was soft and merciful." 

PI an way knew everything about tea, against which he was perpetually 
railing in print as the most pernicious of all human discoveries. He must 
have heard how the East India Company's ships had been treated at New 
York and Charleston, Philadelphia and Annapolis ; and he could not have 
believed that Boston stood alone in her iniquity. But such is political 


The world soon learned what was in store for the un- 
happy city. On the fourteenth of March Lord North 
introduced a bill for closing its harbour, and transferring 
the business of the Custom-house to the port of Salem. 
If the measure became law, (so he foretold in the affected 
lightness of his heart), the presence of four or five frig- 
ates in Massachusetts Bay, without an additional regi- 
ment on Massachusetts soil, would at once place the 
guilty municipality for purposes of foreign trade at a 
distance of seventeen miles from the sea. Parliament 
might well be flattered by the assurance that, in the 
evenings of a week, it could do for the detriment of Bos- 
ton four times that which the forces of nature had taken 
eighteen centuries to do for Ravenna. The Government 
majority was in a mood to believe anything. One of 
their number, to whom the House listened while those 
who spoke on behalf of the incriminated town were in- 
terrupted or silenced, declared that, if every dwelling in 
it was knocked about the ears of its townsmen, they 
would get no more than their deserts. He urged that 
that nest of locusts should be extirpated, and enforced 
his appeal by the famous sentence in which Cato adjured 
the Roman Senate to demolish Carthage. A poor little 
Carthage where every child attended school, and no man 
was a professional soldier ; with its open streets, its un- 
protected quays, and a powerful force of legionaries 
already quartered in its citadel ! 

That was the first blow ; and others fell in rapid suc- 
cession. On the twenty-eighth of March the Prime 
Minister explained the plan of a measure by which he 
purposed to extinguish self-government in Massachu- 
setts. The bill, stringent in the earlier draft, was 
altered for the harsher and the worse before it was laid 
on the table. Lord George Germaine, in whom, not so 
very long before, the Rockinghams had been fond 
enough to discern their possible parliamentary leader, 
commented upon the proposal of the Government as 
well meant, but far too weak. He cordially approved 
the provisions by which a tow r n meeting might only be 


held under permission from the Governor. Why, he 
asked, should men of a mercantile cast collect together, 
and debate on political matters, when they ought to be 
minding their private business ? But the bill would only 
cover half the ground, and the least important half, so 
long as the central Council of the Colony was a tumultu- 
ous rabble, meddling with affairs of State which they 
were unable to understand. That Council, in his opinion, 
should be reconstructed on the model of the House of 
Peers. Lord North thanked the orator, (and a real 
orator even his former friends admitted that on this 
occasion he had proved himself to be,) for a suggestion 
"worthy of his great mind." On the fifteenth of April 
the bill was presented to the House with the addition of 
words enacting that the Council, in whose selection the 
Assembly under the existing constitution had a voice, 
should be nominated exclusively by the Crown. 1 

Governor Pownall, who had learned the institutions 
and geography of Massachusetts by ruling it on the 
spot, reminded the House that it was not a question of 
Boston only. If the measure was carried, local business 
could not be transacted in the furthest corner of Maine, 
unless special leave to hold a Town-meeting had been 
obtained from a Governor resident at the other end of 
three hundred miles of bad roads and forest tracks. 
Burke, very ill heard by an assembly which professed to 
regard a colonial Council as a riotous rabble, called in 
vain for the exercise of care and deliberation. They 
were engaged, he said, on nothing lighter than the pro- 
scription of a province : an undertaking which, whether 
they desired it or not, would expand itself ere long into 
the proscription of a nation. And Savile, begging that 
attention might be granted him during the length of a 
single sentence, exclaimed that a charter, which con- 
veyed a sacred right, should not be broken without first 

1 "It was a year," wrote Horace Walpole, "of fine harangues ; " and he 
instanced especially Wedderburn against Franklin, Burke on the Tea-duty, 
and Lord George Germaine on the government of Massachusetts. — Last 
Journals, April, 1774. 


hearing what might be put forward in defence of it by 
those who lived beneath its safeguard. But such con- 
siderations were not to the purpose of the audience. It 
was one of those moments when the talk and tone of 
society have greater influence than the arguments of 
debate ; and a squire, who had recently been made a 
baronet, gave the House a sample of what passed cur- 
rent in the lobby as a valuable contribution towards the 
right understanding of the American question. Level- 
ling principles, this gentleman affirmed, prevailed in New 
England, and he had the best of reasons for stating it. 
He had an acquaintance who called at a merchant's 
house in Boston, and asked the servant if his master 
was at home. "My master!" the man replied. "I 
have no master but Jesus Christ." 

The bill for annulling the charter was accompanied 
by another for the Impartial Administration of Justice 
in Massachusetts Bay : which was a fine name for a law 
empowering the Governor, if any magistrate, revenue 
officer, or military man was indicted for murder, to send 
him to England for trial in the King's Bench. Barre 
and Conway challenged Lord North to produce a single 
example of a government servant who, having been 
charged with a capital offence, had suffered from the 
injustice of an American tribunal. They recalled to 
the memory of Parliament, (so short if the good deeds 
of those whom it disliked were in question,) how, at a 
time when public feeling in the colony was at a height 
which in the future never could be over-passed, Captain 
Preston and his soldiers, after the fairest of fair trials, 
had been acquitted by "an American jury, a New 
England jury, a Boston jury." And now it was pro- 
posed to remove the cognisance of grave political 
offences from a court without fear and without favour, 
to one which was notoriously ready, — as Wilkes had 
experienced, — to subserve the vengeance of Ministers, 
and which, if the occasion arose, would be even more 
willing to make itself the instrument of their misplaced 
lenity. The Government supporters took no notice 


whatsoever of Captain Preston's acquittal, though it was 
a concrete instance so recent, and so much in point, that 
it ought to have coloured and permeated the entire dis- 
cussion. After the usual fashion of a party which has 
plenty of votes, and no case, they wandered far and 
wide over the whole colonial controversy. The most 
admired speech was that of young Lord Caermarthen, 
who denied the right of Americans to complain that 
they were taxed without being represented, when such 
places as Manchester, — and, he might have added, 
Leeds, and Sheffield, and Birmingham, — had no mem- 
bers of their own in the British Parliament. It was indeed 
a magnificent anticipation of the calling in of the New 
World to balance the inequalities of the old. The debate 
was wound up by the gentleman who had compared 
Boston to Carthage. Speaking this time in English, he 
recommended the Government, if the people of Massa- 
chusetts did not take their chastisement kindly, to burn 
their woods, and leave their country open to the opera- 
tions of the military. It was better, he said, that those 
regions should be ruined by our own soldiers than 
wrested from us by our rebellious children. 

The effect of Lord Caermarthen's allusion to un- 
represented Manchester, as justifying the taxation of 
unrepresented America, was so great that four days 
afterwards Burke thought it worthy of a refutation. 
" So then," he said, " because some towns in England 
are not represented, America is to have no representative 
at all. They are our children ; but, when children ask 
for bread, we are not to give them a stone. When this 
child of ours wishes to assimilate to its parent, and to 
reflect with true filial resemblance the beauteous counte- 
nance of British liberty, are we to turn to them the 
shameful parts of our constitution ? Are we to give 
them our weakness for their strength, our opprobrium 
for their glory ? " 

Even after the lapse of a century and a quarter 
these debates are not pleasant reading for an English- 
man. They went far to justify Turgot in his wonder 


that a country, which had cultivated with so much suc- 
cess all the branches of natural science, should remain 
so completely below itself in the science the most in- 
teresting of all, that of public happiness. 1 The best 
which could be said for the policy adopted by Parliament 
was that a great country should stand upon its rights 
against everybody, and at all hazards. But kindred 
States, like the members of a family, sometimes do well 
to refrain from insisting on advantages which the law, 
if strictly read, allows them to take. " There was a 
time," (wrote Philip Francis, putting into five lines the 
moral of the whole story,) "when I could reason as 
logically and passionately as anybody against the Amer- 
icans ; but, since I have been obliged to study the book 
of wisdom, I have dismissed logic out of my library. 
The fate of nations must not be tried by forms." Passion 
had more to do than logic with the undertaking which 
occupied the two Houses during the spring of 1774. 
If preambles spoke the truth, it should have been stated 
broadly and plainly at the head of each of those fatal 
bills that, whereas the inhabitants of the capital city of 
Massachusetts Bay had incurred the displeasure of his 
Majesty and this present Parliament, it was adjudged 
necessary and expedient to pay the colony out. That 
was the object aimed at; and it was pursued with all 
the disregard of appearances which had marked the 
proceedings of the same House of Commons in its 
crusade against the electors of Middlesex, and with still 
greater indifference to consequences. The members of 
the majority forgot that in the long run it did not lie 
with them to decide that Boston, and Boston alone, 
should have to answer for a course of conduct in which 
four colonies had taken part, and which commanded the 
sympathy of all the others. They credited communities 
of their own race and blood with the baseness of con- 
senting to sit quiet while one of their number was ruined 
for having done its share loyally, if somewhat boister- 
ously, in an enterprise to which all were pledged. In 

1 Letter from Turgot to Dr. Price; March 22, 1778. 


the optimism of their resentment they ignored human 
nature, and put out of their recollection the unanimity 
of America in her resistance to the Stamp Act ; and in 
their heat and haste they thrust out of sight the dignity 
of debate, the rights of a parliamentary minority, and 
even a show of fair play towards the people whose 
freedom and prosperity they were intent on destroying. 

The Americans who resided in London, or who found 
themselves there in the course of travel, petitioned that 
one of their cities should not be visited with unexampled 
rigour before it was so much as apprised that any accu- 
sation had been brought against it. Their prayer was 
treated with silent contempt ; but something more than 
silent contempt was required to stifle the voice of the 
true friends of England and of America within the 
walls of St. Stephen's. Insolence and intolerance not 
often before ran so high, or were directed against states- 
men of such established character and standing. Barre 
had to sit down before he had finished his say. Con- 
way, for the crime of imploring the House, in a very 
familiar Latin phrase, to hear the other side, was 
shouted down by men who had listened to a fool when 
he treated them to the quotation of " Delenda est Car- 
thago." General Burgoyne expressed a wish, (and he 
had better reason than he then knew for wishing it,) to see 
America convinced by persuasion rather than the sword ; 
and the sentiment raised as great a storm as if it had 
been a piece of impudent disloyalty. Johnstone, a dash- 
ing sailor, who had been governor of Florida, contrived 
to tell the House that the work on which they were 
engaged would produce a confederacy of the colonies, 
and would end in a general revolt ; but the roisterers on 
the benches opposite soon taught him that he had 
brought his knowledge of America to the wrong 

Such was the treatment of men each of whom had 
used a pistol in battle, and was ready for one on very 
short notice in the ring of Hyde Park ; for Johnstone 
was a noted fire-eater, and Burgoyne, though good- 


natured, never allowed a joke to go too far. 1 It may 
well be believed that things were still worse for civilians 
who had no better title to a respectful hearing than an 
acquaintance with the subject of debate, and a desire to 
place their views fairly and briefly before their colleagues. 
The speeches of ex-Governor Pownall, of Alderman Saw- 
bridge, and the other more persistent opponents of the 
ministerial policy, were seldom allowed to die a natural 
death. Burke himself, though he held the House while 
addressing it on bye-issues, had to contend against noise 
and ostentatious impertinence when he applied himself 
to the main question of the Government legislation. 
High-handed tactics are often at the time successful; 
and the whole batch of measures — including a bill for 
removing the legal difficulties which hitherto had pre- 
served the American householder from the infliction of 
having soldiers quartered under his private roof — were 
placed on the Statute-book without abridgement or es- 
sential alteration. 

The third great blunder had now been committed ; 
and, as in the two former cases, the effect was soon 
visible in a shape very different from what had been 
expected. The despatch of the troops led to the Boston 
massacre ; the imposition and retention of the Tea-duty 
produced the world-famed scene in Boston harbour; 
and the result of the four penal Acts was to involve 
Great Britain in an unnecessary and unprofitable war 
with exactly as many powerful nations. The main 

1 During a contested election in Lancashire a party of Burgoyne's 
political opponents met in a bar-room, and devised a scheme for what 
they described as "trotting the General." A certain James Elton pulled 
out a valuable watch, and handed it to Burgoyne's servant, with the 
injunction that he should take it to his master, and request him to say 
whether he could tell the time of day. Burgoyne placed the watch on a 
tray together with a pair of pistols, and desired his man to bring it after 
him to the inn where the party was assembled. He went round the circle 
asking each of them whether he was the owner of the watch. When no 
one claimed it, Burgoyne turned to his servant and said : "Since the watch 
belongs to none of these gentlemen, you may take it, and fob it, in remem- 
brance of the Swan Inn at Bolton." As any one who knew old Lan- 
cashire might readily believe, the real owner went by the name of Jemmy 
Trotter to his dying hour. 


responsibility rested with the Government and their 
followers ; but the Opposition were not free from 
blame. They allowed the Address in reply to the royal 
message to pass unchallenged, and they let the Boston 
Port bill go through all its stages without calling for a 
division. They voted against the two other principal 
bills on the third reading, with about as much effect as 
if the governor of a fortress was to reserve the fire of 
his batteries until the enemy had carried their sap beyond 
the counterscarp. Cowed by the aspect of the benches 
in front of them, uncertain as to the feeling in the 
country, and afraid to put it to the test by giving a 
vigorous lead to those wiser tendencies which largely 
prevailed in the great commercial centres, 1 they made a 
very poor fight in the Commons. The House of Lords 
almost shone by comparison. Rockingham, who wanted 
self-confidence but not conviction, put force enough upon 
himself to take a prominent part in the debate ; and in 
private he spared no remonstrances in order to keep in 
the path of duty those among his friends who showed 
hesitation. Lord Chatham was despondent, and most 
unhappy. " America," he wrote, " sits heavy on my 
mind. India is a perpetual source of regrets. There, 
where I have garnered up my heart, where our strength 
lay, and our happiest resources presented themselves, it 
is all changed into danger, weakness, distraction, and 
vulnerability." He was not well enough to take a share 
in the earlier discussions ; and his speech, when at length 
he broke silence, was rather a funeral oration over the 
departed peace and security of the Empire than a sum- 
mons to political conflict. 

But men do not look to the Upper House for the 
delay and mitigation of a coercion bill ; and the Minis- 
ters won all along the line with an ease which surprised 
themselves, and even their Royal master, who knew the 

1 " The landed property, except some of the most sensible, are, as natural, 
for violent measures. The interest of the commercial part is very de- 
cidedly on the other side, and their passions are taking that turn." 
Shelburne wrote thus to Chatham as early as April the Fourth, 1774- 


probabilities of politics as well as any man alive. His 
jubilation had no bounds. In four separate letters he 
could not find an adjective short of " infinite " to express 
the measure of his satisfaction over every fresh proof of 
the irresolution displayed by the Opposition. But in his 
own view he owed them no thanks. Their feebleness 
and futility, (such were the epithets which he applied to 
them,) were an involuntary tribute to the irresistible ex- 
cellence of the ministerial legislation, and only procured 
them his disdain without detracting anything from his 
displeasure. So far from being touched by their sub- 
missive conduct, he was all the more indignant if ever 
they showed a spark of spirit. When they spoke and 
voted in favour of receiving a petition from an Ameri- 
can gentleman in London, a former agent for Massachu- 
setts, who prayed that the fate of the colony might not 
be finally decided until letters had travelled to and fro 
across the water, the King pronounced that the Opposi- 
tion had violated the laws of decency, but that nothing 
better was to be expected from men who were reduced 
to such low shifts. He had a right to enjoy his tri- 
umph. By sheer strength of purpose he had imposed his 
favourite measures on the Cabinet ; and the Cabinet had 
carried them through Parliament as smoothly as, — before 
Fox's day and after it, though not during it, — bills for 
the restraint or the suppression of liberty so often passed. 
Fox's day was not yet. Everybody was talking about 
him ; and behind his back little was said that was compli- 
mentary, and a great deal that was abundantly silly. But 
some veterans of public life, who remembered their own 
mistakes and excesses at an age more advanced than 
his, regarded his future with hope, and his past with 
amused indulgence. Chatham had his notice called to the 
tattle which represented the ex-Lord of the Treasury as 
a premature intriguer, encouraged in his mutiny by cer- 
tain members of the Cabinet, who in their turn had acted 
on a hint from the exalted quarter which was then called 
the Closet. " The part of Mr. Fox, " wrote the old 
statesman, "must naturally beget speculations. It may 


however be all resolved, without going deeper, into youth 
and warm blood. " At this point in his career, (said one 
who watched him narrowly and not unkindly,) it was no 
longer a question of shining by speeches, for he could 
scarce outdo what he had done already. The work 
which lay before him was to retrieve his character by 
reforming it, to practise industry and application, and 
to court instead of to defy mankind. 1 

If Fox was to be of use to his generation, his position 
in the House of Commons had still to be made ; and of 
that no one was more conscious than himself. Sorrow 
had caused him to think, and reflection had brought self- 
knowledge. He set no undue store on the gifts which 
came to him by nature, and he was acutely aware of the 
defects which were in full proportion to his extraordinary 
qualities. Strong in the unwonted sensation of being on 
his guard and his good behaviour, he at once adopted 
an independent but not a pretentious attitude, and main- 
tained it with diligence, forethought, moderation, and 
even modesty. Leaving, as he safely could, the form 
of his speaking to take care of itself, he devoted his 
exclusive attention to the substance of it, and to the 
practical effect of the policy which he recommended. 
He began by a protest against the determination of the 
Speaker to exclude strangers from the gallery ; so 
that a series of debates, which were to fix the destinies 
of the English-speaking world, might not be conducted 
in secret conclave. He stoutly objected to the clause 
which vested the responsibility of reopening Boston har- 
bour, whenever the time came for it, with the Crown in- 
stead of with Parliament. When, by way of answer, he 
was accused of desiring to rob the King of his most valued 
prerogative, the opportunity of showing mercy, he al- 
lowed the courtly argument to pass without satirical com- 
ment. He contented himself with insisting that his 
motion to omit that clause, together with another which 
was more questionable still, should be put and nega- 

1 Chatham to Shelburne ; March 6, 1774. Last Journals of Walpole ; 
February, 1774. 


tived ; in order that it might stand on record in the jour- 
nals how, amidst the general panic, at least one member 
of Parliament had objected to something which the 
Government had demanded. 

Fox spoke briefly, but not infrequently, on the other 
bills relating to America ; more especially when their 
details were being arranged in Committee. On the 
nineteenth of April the House of Commons considered a 
motion to repeal the Tea-duty, which was brought for- 
ward by a private member. Burke signalised the even- 
ing by a splendid oration. Assisted by a comparison of 
the notes furtively taken by various Honourable Gentle- 
men in the crown of their hats, he subsequently wrote 
it out from memory, and saved it for a world which must 
otherwise have been the poorer. The Government sup- 
porters would have refused to listen to Cicero denounc- 
ing Antony, if the performance had trenched upon the 
Government time ; but, as it was an off-night, they gave 
themselves up with a clear conscience for two livelong 
hours to the enjoyment of the speech, which, among 
other notable passages, contained a biographical account 
of Charles Townshend as copious as the discourse of 
an incoming French Academician over his deceased 
predecessor. Even after such a feast of rhetoric they 
were willing to hear Charles Fox, though they would 
hear no one else on the same side. The latest words 
of reason which the House accepted before it went 
to a division, (and both Barre and Burgoyne tried to 
address it,) were those in which the young man defined 
the case in language as plain as his exposition of it was 
accurate and adequate. A tax, he said, could only be 
laid for three purposes : as a commercial regulation, for 
the raising of revenue, or in order to assert a right. As 
to the first two purposes, the Minister denied that he 
had them even- in mind ; while the so-called right of 
taxation was asserted to justify an armed interference 
on the part of Great Britain, and that interference would 
have the inevitable consequence of irritating the Ameri- 
can colonies into open rebellion. 


For the first time in his life Fox looked only to what 
was just and prudent in speech and action ; and he did 
not endeavour, or expect, to attract a personal following. 
One sworn partisan he always was sure of having. 
Poor Stephen's heart was in the right place in his great 
body. He stood by his brother through the darkest hour 
of his fortunes, and attended him gallantly and jauntily 
in his wise endeavours, as he had so often done in his 
hare-brained courses. In the House, which was almost 
identical with the fashionable world, Stephen was some- 
thing of a favourite in spite of his faults, and even, it is 
to be feared, on account of them. He took his share in 
the uphill conflict ; and on the second of May, when 
the Charter of Massachusetts was under consideration, 
he delivered himself in phrases which were worthy of his 
father's son in their manly common sense, and of his 
son's father in their broad humanity. " I rise, sir," he 
said. " with an utter detestation and abhorrence of the 
present measures. We are either to treat the Americans 
as subjects or as rebels. If we treat them as subjects, 
the bill goes too far ; if as rebels, it does not go far 
enough. We have refused to hear the parties in their 
defence ; and we are going to destroy their charter with- 
out knowing the constitution of their Government." 

Those were the last sentences which Stephen Fox is 
known to have uttered in public ; for in two months he 
was a peer, and within seven months he died. By that 
time Charles had made good his ground in public esti- 
mation, and had secured a solid base of operations from 
which he was soon to advance fast and far. Parliament 
was very ready to forget and forgive in the case of a scion 
of an old and famous parliamentary family. He had not 
tried to shine ; he had placed to his account no tran- 
scendent effort ; and his colleagues liked him all the 
better for his self-suppression, and admired him none 
the less. But, whenever he addressed the House, he 
had proved himself its potential master. Amidst a 
tempest of violence and prejudice he alone among the 
opponents of the Government never condescended to 

VOL. I. N 


begin with an apology, and never sate down without 
having driven home all that he wished to say. He had 
vindicated his right to argue a coercion bill as he would 
have argued anything else, refusing to recognise the 
hackneyed plea of public safety as an excuse for hurry 
and slovenliness, and sturdily declining to mend his 
pace under the pressure of public anger. Having 
espoused the right cause, and fought for it like one who 
was not ashamed of it, he brought an increased reputa- 
tion, and an established authority, out of as sorry a busi- 
ness as Parliament had ever been engaged in. But he 
was powerless to amend the Government measures. 
The whole of the baleful harvest was safely garnered ; 
and, — amidst the Acts for paving and lighting streets, 
and for widening and repairing county roads, with 
which the Statute-book of 1774, like any other, is 
crowded, — we still may read, in faded black and dingy 
white, the dry and conventional text of those famous 
laws that in their day set half the world on fire. 

For the matter did not end when the bills had received 
the Royal Assent. There was an Opposition beyond the 
seas which was not kept from speaking out by the fear 
of being called factious. The same ships that took over 
copies of the Port Act, carried a parcel of Bibles and 
prayer-books which Dartmouth entrusted for distribution 
to a clergyman of Philadelphia, who wrote to report 
the effect produced upon public opinion by the two 
consignments. Personally, the good man expressed 
nothing but gratitude towards his Lordship. The books 
had been bestowed on those for whom they were in- 
tended, and there was every sign that they would be 
blessed to the congregation ; but consternation prevailed 
in Boston on hearing that their harbour was to be 
blocked up, and all the colonies seemed to be united in 
opposing the authority of Parliament. 1 

The worthy divine was correct in his reading of the 
situation. But though a Pennsylvanian, whose judge- 

1 The Revd. William Stringer to Lord Dartmouth ; May 14, 1774. 


ment was unclouded by the imminence of a terrible and 
incalculable danger, might already regard it as certain 
that the whole of America would make common cause, 
the future presented itself under a more dubious aspect 
to dwellers in the threatened city. " We have not men 
fit for the times," said John Adams in his private diary. 
" We are deficient in genius, in education, in travel, 
in fortune, in everything. I feel unutterable anxiety. 
God grant us wisdom and fortitude ! Should this coun- 
try submit, what infamy and ruin ! Death, in any form, 
is less terrible." That was written for his own eyes 
alone ; but the hour was too grave, and the men, and 
the women, around him too clear-sighted and resolute, 
for him to mince the truth even when writing to others. 
He reminded James Warren of Plymouth, who was as 
deep in the troubled waters as himself, of the ugly his- 
torical fact that people circumstanced like them had 
seldom grown old, or died in their beds. And to his 
wife he wrote : " We live, my dear soul, in an age of 
trial. What will be the consequence I know not. The 
town of Boston, for aught I can see, must suffer martyr- 
dom. Our principal consolation is that it dies in a noble 
cause." That was the spirit in which the cowards of 
Boston met the announcement that they must bow their 
heads to the yoke, or fight against such odds as the 
world had never seen. The last time that Great Britain 
had exerted her full strength, she had beaten the French 
by land on three continents ; had established over 
France and Spain together an immeasurable superiority 
at sea ; and had secured for herself everything in both 
hemispheres which was best worth taking. Boston, on 
the other hand, contained five and thirty hundred able- 
bodied citizens ; and, in the view of her enemies, no 
population was ever composed of worse men and poorer 
creatures. So George the Third, his Ministers, and his 
army firmly believed ; and they engaged in the struggle 
armed with all the moral advantage which such a con- 
viction gives. 

Before America could be loyal to the people of Bos- 



ton, it had first to be shown whether the people of Bos- 
ton were true to themselves. On the tenth of May the 
intelligence arrived that the Assembly was henceforward 
to sit, and the business of administration to be carried 
on, in the town of Salem ; and that the Custom-house 
was to be removed to Marblehead, the principal landing 
place in Salem harbour. Three days afterwards Gen- 
eral Gage arrived in Massachusetts Bay, with full powers 
as Civil Governor of the colony, and as Commander-in- 
Chief for the whole continent. During those three days 
the Committees of Correspondence which represented 
Boston, and eight neighbouring villages, had quietly, and 
rather sadly, taken up the glove which the giant Empire 
had contemptuously flung to them. They had got ready 
their appeal to all the Assemblies of the continent, in- 
viting a universal suspension of exports and imports ; 
promising to suffer for America with a becoming forti- 
tude ; confessing that singly they might find their trial 
too severe ; and entreating that they might not be left 
to struggle alone, when the very existence of every 
colony, as a free people, depended upon the event. 
Brave words they were, and the inditing of them at such 
a moment was in itself a deed ; but something more 
than pen and ink was required to parry the blows which 
were now showered upon the town, and upon the State 
of which it had already ceased to be the capital. 

On the first of June the blockade of the harbour was 
proclaimed, and the ruin and starvation of Boston at once 
began. The industry of a place which lived by building, 
sailing, freighting, and unloading ships was annihilated 
in a single moment. The population, which had fed it- 
self from the sea, would now have to subsist on the 
bounty of others, conveyed across great distances by a 
hastily devised system of land-carriage in a district 
where the means of locomotion were unequal to such a 
burden. A city which conducted its internal communi- 
cations by boat almost as much as Venice, and quite as 
much as Stockholm, was henceforward divided into as 
many isolated quarters as there were suburbs with salt 


or brackish water lying between them. "The law," 
Mr. Bancroft writes in his History, "was executed with 
a rigour that went beyond the intentions of its authors. 
Not a scow could be manned by oars to bring an ox, or 
a sheep, or a bundle of hay, from the islands. All water 
carriage from pier to pier, though but of lumber, or 
bricks, or kine, was forbidden. The boats that plied be- 
tween Boston and Charlestown could not ferry a parcel 
of goods across Charles River. The fishermen of 
Marblehead, when they bestowed quintals of dried fish 
on the poor of Boston, were obliged to transport their 
offerings in waggons by a circuit of thirty miles." * 
Lord North, when he pledged himself to place Boston 
at a distance of seventeen miles from the sea, had been 
almost twice as good as his word. 

In a fortnight's time, as soon as the pinch began to be 
felt, the troops came back into the town, sore and surly ; 
and a standing camp for two battalions was established 
on Boston Common. Relief, or hope of relief, there was 
none. Long before the summer was over the Constitu- 
tion would be abolished ; the old Councillors would be 
displaced by Government nominees ; and criminal and 
civil cases would be tried by judges whose salaries the 
Crown paid, and by juries which the Crown had packed. 
The right of petition remained ; but it was worth less 
than nothing. A respectful statement of abuses, and a 
humble prayer for their redress, was regarded by the 
King and the Cabinet as a form of treason all the more 
offensive because it could not be punished by law. 
" When I see," said Franklin, " that complaints of griev- 
ances are so odious to Government that even the mere 
pipe which conveys them becomes obnoxious, I am at 
a loss to know how peace and union are to be maintained 
or restored." A few weeks, or days, remained in which 
the free voice of the country could still be heard ; and 
there were those who intended to take good care that its 
latest accents should mean something. Early in June 

1 Bancroft's History of the United States of America ; Epoch Third, 
chapter iv. 


the Assembly met at Salem. On the seventeenth of the 
month the House, behind locked doors, and with an at- 
tendance larger by a score than any that had yet been 
known, took into consideration the question of inviting 
the Thirteen Colonies to a general Congress. The 
Governor's secretary, on the wrong side of the keyhole, 
read a message proclaiming that the Assembly was dis- 
solved ; but, when those, who had entered the room as 
senators, filed out in their character of private citizens, 
the work was past undoing. The place named for the 
Congress was Philadelphia ; the date was to be the first 
of September ; and the five delegates for Massachusetts 
had all been duly elected, including the pair of statesmen 
whom Massachusetts Tories, by way of depreciation, 
pleased themselves by calling the brace of Adamses. 1 

The note had been sounded sharp and clear, and the 
response followed like an echo. The first to rally were 
those who had the most to gain by standing aloof. 
James the Second, in the matter of the Declaration of 
Indulgence, had failed to discover a bribe which would 
tempt the English Nonconformists to assist him in per- 
secuting even those who had persecuted them ; and their 
descendants across the seas had not degenerated. In 
Marblehead and Salem together there were not found 
eighty individuals, all told, who cared to play the part of 
wreckers in the disaster which had befallen the good 
ship Boston. A much larger number of their fellow- 
townsmen, in an address to General Gage, repudiated 
any intention of being seduced by the prospect of their 
own advantage into complicity with a course of action 

1 The name was started by an old ex-Governor in 1770, in a sentence 
which began with the flavour of a Biblical reminiscence, but ran off into 
another strain. " Mr. Cushing I know, and Mr. Hancock I know ; but 
where the devil this brace of Adamses came from I know not. " 

In his Birthday Ode of the Fourth June William Whitehead, the poet 
laureate, had drawn a much more pleasing picture of the attitude of 

"The prodigal again returns, 

And on his parent's neck reclines. 
With honest shame his bosom burns, 
And in his eye affection shines." 


which, whether unjust or not from the point of view of 
the Government, would on their own part be to the last 
degree ungracious and unfriendly. " We must," they 
said, " be lost to all feelings of humanity, could we in- 
dulge one thought to raise our fortunes on the ruin of 
our suffering neighbours." To the Boston merchants 
they offered the gratuitous use of their wharves and 
warehouses, and promised to lade and unlade Boston 
goods for nothing. And indeed they very soon took 
the opportunity of the arrival from London of a bark, 
with chests of tea on board, to treat the cargo in Boston 
fashion, and so disqualify themselves for any further 
marks of Royal and Ministerial favour. 

Salem and Marblehead were forced by their circum- 
stances to declare themselves at once ; and, as the 
provisions of the Act for regulating the government of 
Massachusetts were successively put in force, the Town- 
ships of the colony, one after another, eagerly followed 
suit. The new councillors were appointed on the King's 
writ of mandamus, and twenty-five among them accepted 
the office. It was the worst day's work they had ever 
done for themselves, for their cause, and for the peace, 
(and, in some unfortunate cases, for the fair reputation,) 
of the neighbourhoods in which they severally resided. 
For popular feeling ran high and fierce ; and their 
countrymen were determined that they should not serve, 
to whatever lengths it might be necessary to go in 
order to prevent them. Two thousand men marched 
in companies on to the Common at Worcester, escort- 
ing one of their townsmen whose abilities and personal 
popularity had recommended him to the notice of the 
Government, and formed a hollow square around him 
while, with uncovered head, he read the resignation of 
his seat at the Council Board. George Watson of Ply- 
mouth, who, in the stately language of the day, " pos- 
sessed almost every virtue that can adorn and dignify 
the human character," made known his intention of 
assuming the proffered function. On the next Sunday 
forenoon, when he took his accustomed place in the 


meeting-house, his friends and familiar associates put 
on their hats and walked out beneath the eyes of the 
congregation. As they passed him he bent his head 
over the handle of his cane ; and, when the time arrived, 
he declined the oath of qualification. More violent 
methods, which in certain cases did not stop short of 
grotesque and even brutal horseplay, 1 were employed 
against less respected or more determined men. Of 
thirty-six who had received the King's summons, the 
majority either refused obedience from the first, or were 
persuaded or intimidated into withdrawing their consent 
to join the Council. The rest took sanctuary with the 
garrison in Boston ; and the tidings which came from 
their homes in the country districts made it certain that 
they would do very well to stay there. 

The immediate vicinity of the soldiers was a preven- 
tive against outrages of which the best of the patriots 
were heartily ashamed ; but no body of troops could be 
large enough, or near enough, to deter New Englanders 
from acting as if they still possessed those municipal 
rights of which they had been deprived without a hear- 
ing. General Gage issued a proclamation warning all 
persons against attending Town-meetings ; and Town- 
meetings were held regularly, and were attended by 
larger numbers than ever. The men of Salem, towards 
whom he had special reasons for being unwilling to pro- 
ceed to extremities, walked into the Town-house under 
his eyes, and between footways lined with his soldiers. 
Boston, whose character in official quarters had long 
been gone, was obliged to be more cautious. When 
called to account by the Governor, the Selectmen ad- 

1 Some rather cruel manifestations of popular wrath, employed during 
the American tumults, are new to history ; but the stock punishment of 
riding the rail was of old English County origin. In the Records of 
Worcestershire, for the year 1614, there is a memorandum that certain 
persons were bound over to appear at Sessions. " These three, with divers 
others, on Sunday the 4th October between 9 and 10 in the night, took 
Thomas Smith, Curate of Milton, and by violence put him upon a staffe, 
and carried him up and down the towne, and caused fiddlers to playe by 


mitted that a meeting had been held ; but it was a meet- 
ing, (so they argued,) which had been adjourned from a 
date anterior to the time when the Act came into force. 
Gage, who saw that, if this theory was accepted, the 
same meeting, by means of repeated adjournments, might 
be kept alive till the end of the century, reported the 
matter to his Council. The new Councillors pronounced 
themselves unable to advise him on a point of law, — 
that law which already had ceased to have force beyond 
the reach of a British bayonet ; — but they took occasion 
to lay before his consideration the disordered state of 
the province, and the cruel plight to which his policy 
had reduced themselves. 

When the day came round for the Courts of Justice 
to sit in their remodelled shape, the Judges were treated 
more tenderly as regarded their persons than the Man- 
damus Councillors, but with quite as little reverence 
for their office. They took their seats at Boston only 
to learn that those citizens, who had been returned as 
jurors, one and all refused the oath. A great multitude 
marched into Springfield, with drums and trumpets, and 
hoisted a black flag over the Court-house, as a sign of 
what any one might expect who entered it in an official 
capacity. At Worcester the members of the tribunal 
with all their staff walked in procession, safe and sorry, 
through a quarter of a mile of street lined on each side 
by people drawn up six deep. These militia-men, (for 
such they were,) had their Company officers to command 
them, and wanted nothing to make them a military 
force except the fire-arms which were standing ready 
at home, and which two out of every three amongst 
them could handle more effectively than an average 
European soldier. Wherever the Judges went, if once 
they were fairly inside a town, they were not allowed 
to leave it until they had plighted their honour that 
they would depart without transacting any legal busi- 
ness. After a succession of such experiences the Chief 
Justice and his colleagues waited upon the Governor, 
and represented to him that they must abandon the 


pretence of exercising their functions in a Province 
where there were no jurymen to listen to their charges, 
and where they could not even sit in court to do noth- 
ing unless the approaches were guarded by the best part 
of a brigade of British infantry. 

The process of bringing Massachusetts into line with 
the Revolution was harsh, and sometimes ruthless. So 
far as any public opinion opposed to their own was in 
question, the patriots went on the principle of making 
the Province a solitude, and calling it unanimity. The 
earliest sufferers were Government servants. Clark 
Chandler, the Registrar of Probate at Worcester, had 
entered on the local records a remonstrance against ac- 
tion taken by the more advanced politicians among the 
citizens. He was called upon in open Town-meeting to 
erase the inscription from the books ; and, when he 
showed signs of reluctance, his fingers were dipped in 
ink, and drawn to and fro across the page. The chaise 
of Benjamin Hallowell, a Commissioner of Customs, 
was pursued into Boston at a gallop by more than a 
hundred and fifty mounted men. Jonathan Sewall is 
known in the school histories of America as the recipient 
of a famous confidence. It was to him that John Adams, 
after they had travelled together as far as the parting 
of the ways, used those words of spirited tautology : 
" Swim or sink, live or die, survive or perish with my 
country, is my unalterable determination." Unfortu- 
nately for himself, Sewall was a law officer of the 
Crown as well as a bosom friend of the Crown's adver- 
sary. His elegant house in Cambridge was attacked 
by the mob. He was forced to retire to Boston, and 
subsequently to Europe, where, after long struggles and 
many sorrows, he died of a broken heart. 

These were official people ; but their fate was shared 
by private gentlemen whose sins against liberty did not 
go beyond some rather violent and foolish ebullitions of 
speech. This one had hoped that the rebels would 
swing for it. That one had said that he should be glad 
to see the blood streaming from the hearts of the popu- 


lar leaders ; and, in a milder mood, had contented him- 
self with wishing that they might become turnspits in 
the kitchens of the English nobility. Another, while it 
was still a question whether Massachusetts should resist, 
or accept her punishment tractably, had a child bap- 
tized by the name of " Submit." Angry and idle, — for 
their life was now and henceforward one of enforced 
and unwelcome leisure, — they talked recklessly ; though 
most of them would not of their own accord have hurt 
a fly, let alone a fellow-citizen. They crowded the inns 
and boarding-houses of Boston, and the spare chambers 
of their city friends ; lingering on the very edge of the 
ocean before they started on a much longer flight, from 
which for most of them there was no returning. 

Among those who had been expelled from their 
homes were some of the richest landowners in the prov- 
ince, — men who would have added respectability and 
distinction to any aristocracy in the world. Colonel 
Saltonstall was a good soldier, a just magistrate, and a 
kind neighbour ; but the mob of his district would not 
allow him to stay, and he went first to Boston, and then 
into exile. He refused to bear arms for the Crown, 
against so many old friends who would gladly have 
marched and fought under him if he had found it in his 
conscience to take service with the Continental army. 
He felt to the full such consolation as was afforded by 
the thought that he had done nothing with which to 
reproach himself. " I have had more satisfaction," he 
wrote from England, " in a private life here than I 
should have had in being next in command to General 
Washington." The Vassalls were a family of worth 
and honour, one of whom was grandfather of the Lady 
Holland who kept a salon and a dining-table for the 
Whigs of the great Reform Bill. John Vassall of Cam- 
bridge had no choice but to cross the seas with his 
kindred. His great property in Massachusetts was ulti- 
mately confiscated, after having been subjected to a 
course of systematised spoliation. His mansion-house 
at Cambridge became the headquarters of the Amer- 


ican army. The Committee of Safety published a suc- 
cession of orders, carefully regulating the distribution 
of the produce on his estate ; and the Provincial Con- 
gress solemnly voted half a pint of rum a day to the 
persons employed on cutting his crops, and those of his 
fellow-refugees. Isaac Royall of Medford, to whom 
hospitality was a passion, and the affection of all 
around him, high and low, the prize which he coveted, 
did not escape banishment and proscription. It was 
lightly, but cruelly, said by his political opponents that 
to carry on his farms in his absence was not an easy 
matter ; " for the honest man's scythe refused to cut 
Tory grass, and his oxen to turn a Tory furrow." Dur- 
ing the dreary years which lay before him, his cherished 
wish was to be buried in Massachusetts ; but that boon 
was denied him. He died in England, before the war 
was over, bequeathing two thousand acres of his neg- 
lected soil to endow a Chair in the famous university of 
his native province which he himself was never per- 
mitted to revisit. 

Women, whatever might be their opinions, were not 
uncivilly treated. The habitual chivalry of Americans 
was extended to every applicant for the benefit of it, 
even if she might not always have been the most esti- 
mable of her sex. There was in Massachusetts a dame 
of quality, who once had a face which contemporaries 
described as of "matchless beauty," and a story very 
closely resembling that of the notorious Lady Hamilton. 
She had been the companion of a wealthy baronet, 
Collector of the Customs for the Port of Boston. Those 
Customs, with the license accorded to favoured place- 
holders before the Revolution, he had contrived to col- 
lect while residing at his ease in the South of Europe. 
He was frightened into marriage by the earthquake of 
Lisbon ; and after his death the widow returned to 
America, to her late husband's country house, where 
he had maintained what, for the New England of that 
day, was a grand and lavish establishment. When the 
troubles grew serious she was alarmed by the attitude 


of the rural population, and asked leave to retire to 
Boston. The Provincial Congress furnished her with 
an escort, and passed a special Resolution permitting 
her to take into the city her horses, carriages, live-stock, 
trunks, bedding, and provisions. They detained noth- 
ing of hers except arms and ammunition, for which the 
lady had little use, and the patriots much. She got 
safe into Boston, and safe out of it to England, where 
she closed her career as the wife of a county banker. 

Amenities such as these were not for every day or 
every person. There was one class of Government par- 
tisans which, in particular, fared very badly. It was 
frequently the case that a clergyman, accustomed to 
deal out instruction, held it incumbent upon him to 
inform laymen about matters in which they did not 
desire his guidance. Old Doctor Byles of Boston, 
though a stout Loyalist, had the good sense never to 
bring affairs of state inside the porch of his church. 
" In the first place," he told his people, " I do not under- 
stand politics. In the second place you all do, every 
man and mother's son of you. In the third place you 
have politics all the week ; so pray let one day in the 
seven be devoted to religion. In the fourth place I am 
engaged on infinitely higher work. Name to me any 
subject of more consequence than the truth I bring to 
you, and I will preach on it the next Sabbath." That was 
his theory of duty ; and it carried him unhurt, though not 
unthreatened, over the worst of the bad times. He 
continued to reside, through the war and for years after, 
in his native city ; and he kept it alive by excellent jokes 
which no one relished more than the Whig officials who 
were usually the subjects of them. But others of his 
cloth were less prudent. Every minister of religion, 
who opposed the Crown, was inciting his congregation 
to armed revolt in the vein, and often with the very 
phrases, of the Old Testament Prophets ; and for the 
ministers who supported the Crown to keep unbroken 
silence was more than human or clerical nature could 
endure. They delivered their souls, and were not long 


in discovering that those to whom they preached had 
no attribute of a flock about them except the name. 
One outspoken clergyman had bullets fired into his 
house. The pulpit of another was nailed up, and with 
some excuse, for he had announced from it that colo- 
nists who were shot by the royal soldiers would find 
that their punishment did not end in this life. A third, 
whose hearers complained that "his Toryism was most 
offensive," was put into the village pound, and had her- 
rings thrown over for him to eat. The physicians as a 
rule adhered to the Crown ; but, whatever might be the 
case with the spiritual needs of parishioners, the bodily 
health of citizens, actual and prospective, was not to be 
trifled with. The person of a medical man was very 
generally respected, and his property spared. The 
most dutiful Son of Liberty was willing to excuse his 
own forbearance by the explanation that doctors were 
indebted for their immunity from disciplinary treatment 
to "the exigencies of the ladies." 

Massachusetts had stood by Boston ; and it was soon 
evident that all the other colonies would stand by Mas- 
sachusetts. The Port Act was carried through the 
American townships as swiftly as the rumour of a great 
disaster pervades the bazaars of India. It was printed 
on mourning paper, with a black border ; it was cried 
about the streets as a Barbarous Murder ; it was sol- 
emnly burned in the presence of vast crowds of people. 
The first of June was kept in Philadelphia with peals 
of muffled bells, and colours half-mast high on ships in 
the river, and with the shutters up from dawn to dark 
in ninety houses out of a hundred. The Assembly of 
Virginia set the day apart for humiliation and fasting ; 
but the colonies found more effectual means of relieving 
Boston than by sharing her abstinence. South Carolina 
sent two hundred barrels of rice, with eight hundred more 
to follow. In North Carolina, Wilmington raised two 
thousand pounds in a few days ; the sum which much 
about the same time a fashionable Club was spending at 


Ranelagh on a Masquerade that was the wonder of the 
London season. 1 To convey the contributions of the little 
seaport a ship was offered freight free, and a crew volun- 
teered to make the voyage without wages. The less re- 
mote districts of New England kept Boston supplied with 
portable and perishable victuals ; and the class of food 
which could travel on foot came over many leagues of 
road, and not seldom from places which could badly 
spare it. Two hundred and fifty-eight sheep were 
driven in from one town in Connecticut, and two hun- 
dred and ninety from another. Israel Putnam brought 
a flock of six or seven score from his remote parish, 
and did not fail to show himself on the Common, where 
he could enjoy the sight of more soldiers together than 
he had seen since he fought by the side of Lord Howe 
at Ticonderoga. The British officers, who liked him 
well, suggested that they must owe the pleasure of his 
visit to his having sniffed powder in the air. They told 
him that he very soon might have it to his heart's con- 
tent, as they were expecting twenty ships of the line, 
and as many regiments, from England. " If they come," 
said the old fellow gravely, " I am prepared to treat 
them as enemies." 2 

Indeed, Putnam's colony was full of fight. Besides 
bringing in sheep and bullocks, the men of Connecticut 
brought themselves and their cudgels in even greater 
numbers whenever it was known that the Massachusetts 
Judges were going to hold a Court within a long day's 

1 " Last night was the triumph of Boodle's. Our Masquerade cost two 
thousand guineas. A sum which might have fertilised a Province vanished 
in a few hours." So Gibbon wrote on May the Fourth, 1774, while he was 
still to all outward appearance a tine gentleman, and nothing more. " For 
my own part," he said, " I subscribe, but am very indifferent about it. A 
few friends, and a great many books, entertain me; but I think fifteen 
hundred people the worst company in the world." 

2 The first five chapters of Bancroft's Third Epoch relate, comprehen- 
sively and minutely, the uprising of the American colonies in consequence 
of the Penal Acts of 1774. The severities exercised against the friends of 
Government, which form the unpleasing side of the story, are most fairly 
and effectively told by Mr. Lorenzo Sabine in his Biographical Sketches of 
the Loyalists of the Revolution. 


walk of the border-line between the two provinces. The 
clearest eye in America already discerned that the time 
was at hand when men would be wanted as much as 
money or provisions, and a great deal more than votes 
of sympathy. Patriotic circles were discoursing freely 
about the excellence of the oratory in the Colonial Con- 
vention of Virginia. Enthusiastic members of that Con- 
vention had assured John Adams, (who was accustomed 
to hear the same about himself from his own fellow- 
townsmen,) that Richard Henry Lee, and Patrick Henry, 
would respectively bear comparison with Cicero and with 
Demosthenes. But a shrewd delegate from South Caro- 
lina, who, on his way to Congress, had looked in at 
Williamsburg to see what they were doing in the Old 
Dominion, gave it as his opinion that the most eloquent 
speech had been made by Colonel Washington. " I will 
raise," that officer had said, " one thousand men towards 
the relief of Boston, and subsist them at my own ex- 
pense." It was a sound Anglo-Saxon version of the 
march of the Marseillais. If they knew how to die, he 
would see that in the meanwhile they should know where 
they could get something to eat. 

But above all, and before all, the proposal of a Con- 
gress met with eager acceptance on the part of twelve 
out of the thirteen colonies. They took care to make 
convenient for themselves both the day and the locality 
which Massachusetts had indicated. On the tenth of 
August the delegates, who had been chosen at Salem, 
set forth on their journey from Boston. The spaces 
which they had to traverse, and the welcome which 
everywhere greeted them, brought home to their minds, 
for the first time, a comfortable assurance that the task 
of subjugating so large a country, inhabited by such a 
people, would possibly require more months, and a great 
many more regiments, than had been allotted to it in 
the anticipations of the British War Office. Everywhere 
on their passage bells were ringing, cannons firing, and 
men, women, and children crowding " as if to a corona- 
tion." When John Adams was a very old gentleman, 


it took much to make him angry ; but he never allowed 
any doubt to be thrown, in his presence, on the enthu- 
siasm which attended himself and his colleagues during 
their progress to Philadelphia in the summer of 1774. 
The only time that his grandson ever incurred the in- 
dignation of the ex-President " was by his expression 
of surprise at the extent of those ceremonies, which he 
happened to find set forth in high colours in an old news- 
paper. He was then a boy, and knew no better. But 
he never forgot the reproof." 

The material comforts which awaited the Bostonians, 
in ever greater profusion as they journeyed southwards, 
were matter for constantly renewed surprise and satis- 
faction, tempered by an inward sense of stern superiority 
at the recollection of the plain but invigorating fare 
which they had left behind them. New York, free- 
hearted as now, would not let them go forward on their 
way until they had devoted six evenings to rest and re- 
freshment, and as many days to seeing the sights ; — 
the view from the steeple of the New Dutch church ; 
St. Paul's, with its piazza and pillars, which had cost 
eighteen thousand pounds, in York money ; and the 
statue of his Majesty on horseback in the Bowling 
Green, of solid lead gilded with gold, which had still 
two years to stand on the marble pedestal before it 
was pulled down to be run into bullets. They rode on 
through New Jersey, which they thought a paradise ; 
as indeed it was, and as it remained until the Hessians 
had been allowed their will on it. They halted for a 
Sunday at Princeton College, where the scholars studied 
very hard, but sang very badly in chapel; and where 
the inmates, from the president downwards, were as 
high sons of liberty as any in America. They went on 
their course from town to city, honouring toasts ; hear- 
ing sermons ; recording the text from which the clergy- 
man preached, and observing whether he spoke from 
notes ; admiring the public buildings, and carefully writ- 
ing down what they cost in the currency of the colony. 
At the " pretty village " of Trenton they were ferried 

VOL. I. O 


over the Delaware, in the opposite direction from that in 
which it was to be crossed on the December night when 
the tide of war showed the first faint sign of turning. 

On the nineteenth afternoon they entered Philadel- 
phia, where they were housed and feasted with a cor- 
diality which in those early days of the Revolution had 
the air of being universal, and with a luxury which 
threw even the glories of New York into the shade. 
They had known what it was to breakfast in a villa on 
the Hudson River with " a very large silver coffee pot, a 
very large silver tea pot, napkins of the finest materials, 
plates full of choice fruit, and toast and bread-and-butter 
in great perfection." But in Philadelphia, — whether 
it was at the residence of a Roman Catholic gentleman, 
with ten thousand a year in sterling money, " reputed 
the first fortune in America"; or the Chief Justice of 
the Province ; or a young Quaker lawyer and his pretty 
wife, — there was magnificence, and, above all, abun- 
dance, under many roofs. "A most sinful feast again," 
John Adams wrote. " Everything which could delight 
the eye or allure the taste. Curds and creams, jellies, 
sweetmeats of various sorts, twenty sorts of tarts, fools, 
trifles, floating islands, and whipped sillabubs." These 
dainties were washed down by floods of Madeira, more 
undeniable than the political principles of some among 
their hosts; for, (as was proved just three years later, 
when red-coats were seated round the same tables,) 
Philadelphia loved to place her best before her visitors, 
quite irrespective of whether or not they were trusty 
patriots. But for the present the opinions of the enter- 
tainers seemed as sound as their wine, and gushed as 
freely. At elegant suppers, where the company drank 
sentiments till near midnight, might be heard such un- 
exceptionable aspirations as : " May Britain be wise, and 
America be free ! " " May the fair dove of liberty, in 
this deluge of despotism, find rest to the sole of her 
foot on the soil of America!" " May the collision of 
British flint and American steel produce that spark of 
liberty which shall illuminate the latest posterity ! " 


Philadelphia was destined in the course of the war 
to play the important, if not very noble, part of serving 
as a Capua to the British army ; but the men of the 
first Congress were of a political fibre which was proof 
against any enervating influences. They fell to work 
forthwith, and their labours were continuous, severe, 
and admirably adapted to the particularities of the 
situation. Possessed of no constitutional authority to 
legislate or govern, they passed, after searching debate 
and minute revision, Resolutions which had the moral 
force of laws, and the practical effect of administrative 
decrees. On the eighth of October they put on record 
"that this Congress approve the opposition of the 
Massachusetts Bay to the late Acts of Parliament ; and, 
if the same shall be attempted to be carried into exe- 
cution by force, all America ought to support them in 
their opposition." They then proceeded to draw up a 
Declaration of Rights, claiming for the American people 
in their provincial assemblies a free and exclusive power 
of legislation on all matters of taxation and internal 
policy, and calling for the repeal, in whole or in part, 
of eleven Acts of Parliament by which that claim was 
infringed. They unanimously agreed not to import any 
merchandise from the mother-country ; but, like wary 
men of business, they gave themselves another twelve- 
month during which American goods might be exported 
to Great Britain, if Great Britain chose to take them. 

One class of imports was prohibited specifically, un- 
conditionally, and apart from all considerations of poli- 
tics. " We will," so Congress proclaimed, " neither 
import, nor purchase any slave imported, after the first 
day of December next ; after which time we will wholly 
discontinue the slave trade." The pledge was binding 
upon all ; but it bore the special stamp of Virginia. The 
Assembly of that colony had, over and over again, framed 
and carried, in condemnation of the slave trade, laws 
which had, over and over again, been disallowed by the 
Royal veto, enforced on one occasion by a personal and 
emphatic expression of the Royal anger. It is melan- 



choly to reflect what the social condition and the politi- 
cal history of Virginia might have been if the Home Gov- 
ernment had allowed free play to the generous impulses 
which actuated her public men before the Revolutionary 
war. They liked to be told high and hard truths, and 
were prepared to act them out in practice. " Every 
gentleman here is born a petty tyrant. Taught to re- 
gard a part of our own species in the most abject and 
contemptible degree below us, we lose that idea of the 
dignity of man which the hand of Nature hath planted 
in us for great and useful purposes. Habituated from 
our infancy to trample upon the rights of human nature, 
every liberal sentiment is enfeebled in our minds ; and 
in such an infernal school are to be educated our future 
legislators and rulers." That was how, in 1773, a Virgin- 
ian representative discoursed openly to his fellows. No 
such speech could have been made with impunity in the 
State Legislature during the generation which preceded 
the Secession of 1861. 

And finally, knowing by repeated experience that for 
Americans to petition Parliament was only to court their 
own humiliation, Congress laid formality aside, and pub- 
lished a direct appeal to all true and kindly Englishmen. 
The people of Great Britain, (so the document ran,) had 
been led to greatness by the hand of liberty ; and there- 
fore the people of America, in all confidence, invoked 
their sense of justice, prayed for permission to share their 
freedom, and anxiously protested against the calumny 
that the colonies were aiming at separation under the 
pretence of asserting the right of self-government. 
Chatham, after confiding to the House of Lords that his 
favourite study had been the political literature of " the 
master-countries of the world," declared and avowed 
that the Resolutions and Addresses put forth by the Con- 
gress at Philadelphia, " for solidity of reasoning, force of 
sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, under such a com- 
plication of difficult circumstances," were surpassed by 
no body of men, of any age and nation, who had ever is- 
sued a state paper. A contemporary Scotch journalist 


described these productions as written with so much 
spirit, sound reason, and true knowledge of the constitu- 
tion, that they had given more uneasiness than all the 
other proceedings of the Congress. 1 

The rate of speed at which compositions of that excel- 
lence were devised, drafted, criticised, amended, and 
sanctioned appears enviable to the member of a modern 
representative assembly ; but it fell short of what satis- 
fied men accustomed to the succinct methods of a New 
England Town-meeting, and for whom Philadelphia was 
a place of honourable but, as it seemed to them, almost 
interminable exile. As early as the tenth of October 
John Adams wrote : " The deliberations of the Congress 
are spun out to an immeasurable length. There is so 
much wit, sense, learning, acuteness, subtlety, and elo- 
quence among fifty gentlemen, each of whom has been 
habituated to lead and guide in his own Province, that 
an immensity of time is spent unnecessarily." The end 
was not far off. On the twentieth of the month the 
Pennsylvanian Assembly entertained Congress at a 
dinner in the City Tavern. The whole table rose to 
the sentiment, " May the sword of the parent never 
be stained with the blood of her children!" Even the 
Quakers who were present drained their glasses on the 
ground that it was not a toast, but a prayer; and a 
prayer which was much to their own liking. Six days 
afterwards Congress dissolved itself. The tenth of May 
was appointed for the meeting of its successor ; and the 
Canadian colonies, and the Floridas, were invited to 
send representatives. Two days more, and the Massa- 
chusetts delegates mounted for their homeward journey. 
"We took our departure," said Adams, "in a very great 
rain, from the happy, the peaceful, the elegant, the 
hospitable and polite city of Philadelphia. It is not 
very likely that I shall ever visit this part of the world 
again ; but I shall ever retain a most grateful sense of 
the many civilities I have received in it, and shall think 

1 The passage referred to in the text is quoted by Professor Tyler in 
chapter xv. of his Literary History. 


myself happy to have an opportunity of returning 
them. " Events were at hand of such a nature that to 
set a limit to what was likely needed more than human 
foresight. John Adams had not seen Philadelphia for 
the last time, by many ; and the return dinners with 
which he requited her hospitality were given by him as 
President of seventeen States, and six millions of 



While the House of Commons was scheming the ruin 
of Boston, its own days were already being numbered ; 
and those who speculated on the exact date of its dis- 
appearance had a very narrow margin within which 
their calculations could range. Charles Fox experienced 
the fortune which frequently awaited him where money 
was to be lost or won. He laid Sir George Macartney 
ten guineas to five that the Dissolution would not take 
place before Christmas, 1774; and on the last day of 
September sixty messengers passed through one single 
turnpike, in a hurry to inform the country that the writs 
were being prepared for immediate issue. 

When dealing with so long, and so eventful, a national 
history as ours, it is never safe to speak in superlatives ; 
but it may confidently be asserted that the burden of 
proof rests with those who maintain that a worse Par- 
liament ever sate than that which was elected in the 
spring of 1768. Chosen amidst an orgy of corruption, 
its title to remembrance rests on two performances. 
By a great and sustained exertion of misdirected energy 
it succeeded in depriving the Middlesex electors of their 
rights for half a dozen sessions ; and it threw away the 
loyalty of America. One good deed stands to its ac- 
count. In a better moment, inspired by the inflexible 
integrity of George Grenville, it had enacted a law 
framed in the interest of electoral morality with sincere 
intention, and not a little skill. The trial of an election 
petition, which had hitherto been determined by a party- 
vote in a Committee of the whole House, was now trans- 



ferred to a small number of selected members, who 
were bound to listen to the whole evidence, and decide 
the case according to its rights. The proceeding be- 
came henceforward something of a judicial reality, 
instead of a mere opportunity for the people in power 
to increase their existing majority by substituting a 
friend in the place of an opponent. Great things were 
expected from the new Act by honest men of all politi- 
cal opinions. Samuel Johnson congratulated the elec- 
tors of Great Britain on the circumstance that a claim 
to a seat in Parliament would now be examined with the 
same scrupulousness and solemnity as any other title. 
Under the old state of things, (so he most truly said,) 
to have friends in a borough was of little use to a candi- 
date unless he had friends in the House of Commons ; 
and a man became a member because he was chosen, 
not by his constituents, but by his fellow-senators. 
The case could not be more pithily stated ; but it reads 
oddly in a pamphlet 1 issued on behalf of a Cabinet 
which, by the brute force of partisan votes within the 
walls of Parliament, thrice unseated Wilkes, and ended 
by seating Luttrell. 

These symptoms of nascent purity were not equally 
acceptable in a higher quarter. The King understood 
the inner working of his own system of government 
better than did the downright old Tory author who had 
taken up the cudgels to defend it. Little as George the 
Third loved Grenville when alive, he had still less liking 
for the well-meant and carefully devised statute which 
that statesman had left behind him as a legacy to his 
country. In February, 1774, the Commons had voted 
by more than two to one in favour of making the Act 
perpetual. No one argued against the proposal on its 
merits except Rigby, who, with a touch of genuine feel- 
ing, implored the House to think yet again before it for- 
bade treating. But the King expressed to Lord North 
his regret that Parliament had been misled by a false love 
of popularity, and consoled himself with the reflection 

1 The Patriot, Addressed to the Electors of Great Britain ; 1774. 


that the mischief would some day be undone, because 
" passion was a short madness." 

Grenville's law had very seriously altered, for a time 
at all events, the conditions under which his Majesty 
practised the art wherein he was a master. The first 
Dissolution which takes place under a new Corrupt 
Practices Act is always a season of perturbation among 
those more humble operators who now pull the hidden 
strings of politics ; and the King and his coadjutors, in 
the autumn of 1774, hesitated about doing many things 
which they had done fearlessly at the general election 
of 1768, and which, after the manner of their craft, they 
had learned how to do safely before the general election 
of 1780. 1 But, even in those early days, whenever they 
were on firm ground, they acted broadly, promptly, and 
decisively. Parliament had made it dangerous to bribe 
the electors in the boroughs ; but nothing, except the 
limits of that Secret Service Fund which had been 
extracted from the taxpayer on the pretext that it was 
to be expended in securing the general interests of the 
nation abroad and at home, stood in their way when it 
was a question of bribing the patrons. " A note," (such 
were Lord North's orders to Mr. John Robinson, the 
Secretary of the Treasury,) " should be written to Lord 
Falmouth in my name, and put into safe hands. His 
Lordship must be told, in as polite terms as possible, that 
I hope he will permit me to recommend to three of his 
six seats in Cornwall. The terms he expects are 2500/. 
a seat, to which I am ready to agree ; " and he had still 
to agree when his noble friend, rather shabbily, (as he 
complained,) made it guineas instead of pounds. u Mr. 
Legge," wrote the Prime Minister on the sixth of Octo- 

1 The King and Rigby were not alone in their dislike of the Grenville 
Act, as is indicated in Samuel Footc's play of The Cozeners, which was 
put upon the stage in 1774. 

" Mrs. Fleec'em. Have you advertised a seat to be sold ? 

"Flaw. I never neglect business, you know ; but the perpetuating of 
this damned Bribery Act has thrown such a rub in our way. 

"Mrs. FUec'em. New acts, like new brooms, make a little bustle at 
first. But the dirt will return, never fear." 


ber, " can only afford 400/. If he comes in for Lost- 
withiel he will cost the public 2000 guineas. Gascoign 
should have the refusal of Tregony if he will pay 1000/. ; 
but I do not see why we should bring him in cheaper 
than any other servant of the Crown. If he will not 
pay, he must give way to Mr. Best or Mr. Peachy." 
Six weeks afterwards, when the goods had all been 
delivered and the bills were coming in, some of the bar- 
gains had not yet been finally closed. " Let Cooper 
know whether you promised Masterman 2500/. or 3000/. 
for each of Lord Edgcumbe's seats. I was going to 
pay him twelve thousand five hundred pounds, but he 
demanded fifteen thousand." * 

These delectable details had for George the Third 
the same fascination as the numbers and discipline of 
his soldiers had for Frederic the Great, and their height 
for Frederic's father. Determined to get his informa- 
tion from the fountain-head, if that phrase can be applied 
to such very muddy water, he wrote direct for news, 
and more news, to Mr. John Robinson, whose assiduity 
in keeping him informed of what was going forward, 
(so he graciously acknowledged,) he could not enough 
commend. He sent three letters to Lord North, in the 
course of five days, about the poll for Aldermen in the 
City of London, regarding it as an indication of the proba- 
ble action which the Liverymen would take at the poll 
for their parliamentary members. He was careful to 
remind the Prime Minister of a report which had 
reached his ears, that bad votes were being tendered 
for the Opposition candidates at Westminster ; and he 
gave personal orders that his household troops, horse 
and foot, should be canvassed on behalf of Lord Percy 
and Lord Thomas Clinton, who were standing in the 
Government interest. In one electoral department, 
more important then than now, he had a free hand, 
and he let its weight be felt. The mode of choosing 
Scottish representative peers was not affected by the 

1 Abergavenny MSS. ; published by the Historical Manuscripts Com- 
mission, 1887. 


Grenville Act ; and the King arranged the list as sum- 
marily as though he were nominating as many Lords 
in Waiting. His method of management called forth 
on the present occasion a letter in refreshing contrast 
to the waste of sycophancy and greediness by which it 
is surrounded. Lord Buchan informed Dartmouth, as 
the only Minister with whom he cared to communicate 
on a friendly footing, that Lord Suffolk, writing as Sec- 
retary of State, had thought proper to send him an 
authoritative message on the subject of the sixteen 
peers to be elected for Scotland. " I returned his 
Lordship an answer suitable to the affront he had ven- 
tured to offer; and I do most earnestly intreat your 
Lordship, as an old acquaintance, and a person for 
whom I have a singular good-will, that you will, when 
an opportunity offers, suggest that, if I am to be 
applied to for the future in that manner by any of the 
King's servants I shall, notwithstanding my disposition 
to rustication, make one more visit to the great city to 
chastise the person who shall waste his ink and paper 
in that manner." 1 

The consequences of the Grenville Act were not as 
sudden, nor as sweeping, as Rigby apprehended. It 
may have seemed a dry election to those who, between 
their twinges of gout, recollected the flood of liquor 
which six years before had inundated the constituencies. 
But there was as yet no lack of the rough conviviality 
which long ere this had driven Horace Walpole from 
Parliament. It was a bad time for a member of the 
Dilettanti Club who at that period of the year did not 
care to leave London, and the great country houses 
round London, for any point short of Italy ; especially 
if his political interests required him to travel almost 
as far as Italy, in exactly the opposite direction. John 
Crawford the younger of Auchinanes, — whose grati- 
tude, (as has already been related,) Charles Fox ac- 
quired by coming chivalrously to the rescue when he 

1 Dartmouth MSS.; vol. iii., p. 211. 


was involved in rhetorical difficulties, 1 — has left a 
record of what he went through in order to re-enter 
a House of Commons where he was afraid to speak, 
and did not greatly care to sit. No one can read with- 
out compassion, and few politicians without a pang of 
sympathy, the letters which he addressed to those 
members of the Fitzpatrick connection the necessities 
of whose canvass took them no further afield than the 
Home Counties. It had been serious enough when, 
between one election and another, he had been doing no 
more than nurse his popularity, and attempt painfully 
to acquire in North British circles the reputation of a 
good fellow. "I have at this moment," he wrote to 
Lord Ossory, " three neighbours who are come to dine 
with me. I dine at four, and they came at one, and I 
am now making them my mortal enemies by not going 
down to them. I had yesterday likewise three gentle- 
men to dine, whom I wished most to be well with ; but 
I have heard that they were dissatisfied with me for not 
giving them wine enough. My wine is the best, I sup- 
pose, in the world : my clarets of vintage fifty-nine ; my 
Port, Sherry, Madeira, sweet wines, some of it forty 
years old, and scarce any less than twenty." It is no 
wonder that, when the Renfrewshire election came in 
earnest, the owner of this cellar was paying his penalty 
in bodily suffering for the glory of such a possession. 
" This is a small county, and whenever I get upon my 
feet, I shall be able to go through it in a few days. 
The Duke of Hamilton has given me his interest, which 
is very considerable. You may guess how I pass my 
time between the gout, and the country gentlemen who 
come flocking in upon me. I have passed two cruel 
nights ; violent pain, abominable company, and no sleep. 
Yesterday my antagonist came to see me. There were 
eight besides myself, who only appeared for half an 
hour. They sat from three to ten o'clock, and I had 
the curiosity to inquire from the butler what they 
drank. You can calculate better than I can, so divide 

1 F.arly History of Charles Fox, chapter x. 


ten bottles of wine, and sixteen bowls of punch, each of 
which would hold four bottles. Can you conceive any- 
thing more beastly or more insupportable ? " : 

Meanwhile the leading member of Crawford's circle 
would have been well pleased to light upon a seat where 
the process of electioneering consisted in making him- 
self agreeable to a duke, and drinking a sufficiency of 
fifty-nine claret with commoners. The purchase of 
boroughs was a cash transaction, and therefore outside 
the sphere of Charles Fox's financial operations ; and 
the few which could be obtained as a favour were not 
for him. The most confiding of patrons would hesitate 
before he sacrificed a couple of thousand pounds for 
the honour of making a senator of a young gentleman 
whose shortcomings were historical, and whose public 
virtues might well be regarded as of too recent origin to 
stand the strain of a six years Parliament. Fox, said 
Walpole, like the Ghost in Hamlet, shifted to many 
quarters ; but in most the cock crew, and he walked 
off. At last he found an asylum at Malmesbury, a 
delightful constituency with thirteen electors. It is 
possible that his success was the result of a compromise 
between the two parties ; for his colleague was Mr. 
William Strahan, as estimable a man as supported the 
Government, which as King's Printer he could not very 
well help doing. To satisfy the current requirements 
of the Malmesbury burgesses he possessed that which 

1 Letters, in the Russell collection, from Crawford to Lord Ossory ; Sep- 
tember, 1774. The locus classicus which determines what our ancestors 
regarded as an inadequate provision of liquor for a party of three may be 
found in a letter written to George Selwyn by a fast parson. "The whim 
took them of ordering their dinner, and a very good one they had : mack- 
erel, a delicate neck of veal, a piece of Hamborough beef, cabbage and 
salad, and a gooseberry tart. When they had drunk the bottle of white 
wine, and of port, which accompanied the dinner, and after that the only 
double bottle of claret that I had left, I found in an old corner one of the 
two bottles of Burgundy which I took from your cellar when you gave me 
the key of it. By Jove, how they did abuse my modesty that instead of 
two I did not take two dozen ! But, having no more, we closed with a 
pint of Dantzic cherry brandy, and have just parted in a tolerable state of 
insensibility to the ills of human life." 


Charles Fox wanted ; for he had long been in a position 
to lay by a thousand pounds a year from the profits of 
his business. 

The arrangement suited Strahan ; for he was not one 
of those who carried public differences into personal 
relations. His two closest intimacies were with two 
men who had not a political view in common. He had 
done more than anybody else to help Samuel Johnson 
through his period of distress ; and in later and happier 
days he acted as his banker, and such a banker as any 
literary man would rejoice to have. He found places 
for young people whom the great writer desired to 
assist ; and franked his letters ; and did his best to 
enable him to frank them himself by recommending 
him to the Secretary for the Treasury as a parliamen- 
tary candidate, on the ground that the King's friends 
would find him a lamb, and the King's enemies a lion. 
On the other hand Strahan came as near as the ordi- 
nary duration of human existence would allow to being 
a life-long friend of Franklin, whom in 1757 he already 
regarded as the most agreeable of men, and the most 
desirable of associates in the calling to which they had 
both been bred. In 1784, when even Franklin was too 
old for the offer of a partnership in a printing office, 
Strahan was still urging him to come as a guest to 
England, and to stay there for good and all. What 
Franklin thought of Strahan may be gathered from the 
fact that he forgave him his votes in favour of North's 
policy : a forgiveness which he conveyed in a letter of 
grim, and for him rather heavy-handed, raillery. 1 Charles 

1 "Philadelphia : 5th July, 1775. 

" Mr. Strahan, — You are a member of Parliament, and one of that 
majority which has doomed my country to destruction. You have begun 
to burn our towns and murder our people. Look upon your hands. They 
are stained with the blood of your relations ! You and I were long friends. 
You are now my enemy, and I am Yours, 

"B. Franklin." 

There was some excuse for a French editor who took the letter in sad 


Fox had every reason to be satisfied, for he had secured 
what in those facile days passed for an ideal parliamen- 
tary situation ; — the membership for a borough repre- 
sented by two gentlemen of opposite opinions, of whom 
both were easy to live with, and one had plenty of money. 
The electoral calm in which he now basked was in strik- 
ing contrast with all that awaited him from the moment 
when he set his foot on the Westminster hustings. 

The dissolution found Burke, as well as Fox, at sea 
with regard to his electioneering prospects. The patron 
of his borough was tired of bringing into Parliament pri- 
vate friends, from whom he was loth to take a shilling, 
and who, not being local landowners, could do noth- 
ing towards helping forward his own election for the 
county. Burke, with his reverence for the British consti- 
tution as it existed, recognised the situation frankly, and 
almost sympathetically. " I am extremely anxious," he 
wrote to Lord Rockingham, " about the fate of Lord 
Verney and that borough. It is past all description, 
past all conception, the supineness, neglect, and blind 
security of my friend. He will be cheated, if he is 
not robbed." But none the less the blow was a heavy 
one. " Sometimes when I am alone," (Burke's letter 
proceeded,) "in spite of all my efforts I fall into a 
melancholy which is inexpressible. Whether I ought 
not totally to abandon this public station, for which I 
am so unfit, and have of course been so unfortunate, 
I know not. Most assuredly I never will put my feet 
within the door of St. Stephen's chapel without being 
as much my own master as hitherto I have been." 
Lord Rockingham hastened to relieve his friend's solici- 
tude, and placed at his disposal one of his own seats 
at Malton. While travelling thither Burke learned that 
there were other public thieves busy at election time 
besides those who frequented the waiting-room at the 
Treasury, for he was stopped by two highwaymen on 
Finchley Common. In the same week the Prime Min- 
ister met the same fate. The perils of the road, at a 
season when the lot of a politician was already hard 


enough without them, may be estimated by the circum- 
stance that Lord North set out on his journey expecting 
to be robbed, while Burke's feeling was surprise at his 
good fortune in never having been robbed before. 

A compliment was in store for Burke more valuable 
even than the confidence and affection of a Rockingham. 
Many of the citizens of Bristol had had enough of scan- 
dals and disorders at home and in the colonies, and were 
desirous of lighting upon a representative who had stud- 
ied business in its larger aspect, and who understood 
the close connection between sound trade and good 
government. They found their man in Burke ; and he 
had just been chaired at Malton when he received an 
invitation to contest Bristol. He placed down no money. 
He would give no pledges. Even about America he 
promised nothing but impartial consideration of matters 
deeply concerning the interests of a commercial com- 
munity which still claimed to be the second port in the 
kingdom. To borrow a phrase from the vocabulary of 
transatlantic politics, he ran upon his record ; and a 
grand record it was, as he laid it before the people of 
Bristol in the speech which he delivered at the moment 
of his arrival amongst them. " When I first devoted 
myself to the public service, I considered how I should 
render myself fit for it ; and this I did by endeavouring 
to discover what it was that gave this country the rank 
it holds in the world. I found that our prosperity and 
dignity arose from our constitution and our commerce. 
Both these I have spared no study to understand, and 
no endeavour to support. I now appear before you to 
make trial whether my earnest endeavours have been 
so wholly oppressed by the weakness of my abilities as 
to be rendered insignificant in the eyes of a great trad- 
ing city. This is my trial to-day. My industry is not 
on trial. Of my industry I am sure." He had not 
slept, he said, from the time that he received their sum- 
mons to the time that he was addressing them in their 
Guildhall; and, if he was chosen their member, he 
would be as far from slumbering and sleeping, when 


their service required him to be awake, as he had been 
when coming to offer himself as a candidate for their 

It was a noble compact, and on his side it was nobly 
kept. He came victorious out of a struggle so pro- 
tracted, and to his leading supporters so terribly expen- 
sive, that it might well have aroused, in a mind acute 
as his, some faint suspicion that the British constitution 
required not only defending but amending. His col- 
league, by one of those freaks of luck which so often 
allot to men, otherwise obscure, a conspicuous but un- 
comfortable niche in history, will pass to the end of time 
as the prototype of a political nonentity. But, in truth, 
he had both spirit and ability, and could explain himself 
with effect not only to a throng of triumphant partisans, 
but, as was afterwards shown on many occasions, to a 
hostile House of Commons. At the declaration of the 
poll, so far from saying " ditto to Mr. Burke," Mr. Cru- 
ger spoke first ; and a good third of Mr. Burke's speech 
consisted in a statement of the points on which he 
differed from Mr. Cruger. 

In many other constituencies besides Bristol there 
was plenty of independence, and little flagrant corrup- 
tion. It was to an unusual degree a country gentle- 
man's election. The King, so far back as August, had 
prophesied that a dissolution would fill the House with 
men of landed property, as the Nabobs, Planters, and 
other volunteers were not ready for the battle. There 
was less money forthcoming than on the last occasion ; 
and, which was more to the purpose, people needed to 
be very cautious how they spent what they were pre- 
pared to part with. Mr. Grenville's Act (as Horace 
Walpole said) now hung out all its terrors. The rich 
Londoners had been taken by surprise, and did not 
venture at that eleventh hour to throw about their guin- 
eas and banknotes. The squires who lived close at 
hand, and who loved to entertain even where there was 
nothing to be got by it, had established a claim on the 
suffrages of rural boroughs by a course of hospitality 

VOL. 1. p 


which no laws, except those of health, could punish. 
It was not a crime for a host, who himself took his 
share, to give his friend a couple of bottles of wine and 
half a bowl of punch, and provide him with a bed in 
which to sleep them off. And again the large propri- 
etors, who could afford to set aside a square mile of 
grass from the plough and the dairy farm, had at their 
disposal abundant material for sustaining their influence 
and popularity. A great family, which represented a 
great town, made little of keeping up a herd of five or 
six hundred deer for the express object of supplying 
the Corporation banquets, and the private tables of im- 
portant citizens. The breaking-up of a deer-park was in 
those days regarded as an infallible symptom that the 
owner of it had done with electioneering. " Harry Mills 
was with me yesterday," (so runs a letter which is worth 
quoting,) " and says it now begins to be suspected by Sir 
John Trevylian's friends that he does not mean to offer 
himself again for Newcastle. It is affirmed that he is 
going to dispark Roadley, and lay it out in farms. All 
your Newcastle friends have been served with venison. 
And indeed I do not think there can be a more success- 
ful battery played off against a Corporation than one 
plentifully supplied with venison and claret." This let- 
ter was addressed in 1777 to Stoney Bowes, who had 
just been beaten in a bye-election for Newcastle-on- 
Tyne by the head of a family which had represented 
that city, with a few short intervals, for more than a 
century. 1 

Apart altogether from what he gave them, the free- 
men and freeholders preferred a neighbour for his own 
sake; and, whoever else had a chance against him, a 
courtier had none. Where bribery, (said Horace Wal- 
pole,) was out of the question, they would give their 

1 Report of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-on-Tyne for 1857. 
Bowes was the original of Barry Lyndon, and a still greater scoundrel, with 
an even more extraordinary story. Thackeray, by a stroke of genius, turned 
him from a mean hound into a swaggering ruttian ; and such as Thackeray 
made him, he will remain. 


votes to a man of birth who resided in their own district, 
or to a clever talking candidate from a distance who 
could show them a specimen of the style in which he 
would denounce sinecures if they sent him to Parlia- 
ment. But from neither of those two classes did Wal- 
pole hope for any advantage to the nation. The country 
gentlemen were bitterly angry with the colonists; and, 
as for the bustling politicians, the King would still be 
able to buy the representatives themselves, though the 
representatives did not venture to buy the electors. 
And so his Majesty appeared to think ; for, as soon as 
the first contests had been decided, he directed the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury to let him see the names of those 
who had been successful, tabulated under the heads of 
" Pro," "Con," and "Doubtful." 

Walpole's belief that the new House of Commons 
would be no less compliant than the last were shared by 
even abler men who watched our politics from without. 
That was the sense in which the Prussian Minister wrote 
to Potsdam ; and the old King replied that he never 
expected otherwise, as he had long known that money 
was the mainspring of the British Constitution. 1 Frank- 
lin, from what he saw of the elections, went so far as to 
doubt whether there was any use in having a House of 
Commons. " Since a Parliament," he wrote, " is al- 
ways to do as a ministry would have it, why should we 
not be. governed by the ministry in the first instance ? 
They could afford to govern us much cheaper, the Par- 
liament being a very expensive machine, that requires a 
great deal of oiling and greasing at the people's charge." 
But, dark as the future was, it contained an element of 
hope which escaped these sharp-sighted observers. 
They had reckoned without the country gentlemen 
who sate for their own boroughs, and the still greater 
country gentlemen who had been chosen by the Coun- 
ties. Of the former sort there were many more than 
in the last Parliament. The price of seats was lower 
by from thirty to forty per cent., and was soon to be 

1 Le Rot Frederic au Comte de Maltzan ; 14 November, 1774. 



lower still ; for a membership of Parliament, like a com. 
mission in the army, ruled highest in time of assured 
peace, and fell to next to nothing by the end of a long 
war. Gibbon, who was a country gentleman against 
his will, and who remained one no longer than the first 
moment when he could find a purchaser for the last of 
his acres, was sent to Westminster by a Cornish kins- 
man at the general election of 1774. For some time he 
was left in ignorance whether his borough would be 
Liskeard or St. Germans. All that he knew was that 
he would have to contribute the half of two thousand 
four hundred pounds, and that Mr. Eliot would consent 
to payment being postponed until his second son, who 
was a lad of thirteen, had come of age. Those terms, 
even as between relatives, indicated a very different 
state of the market from that which prevailed in 1798, 
when George Selwyn got nine thousand for the double 
seat at Ludgershall. A bill for twelve hundred pounds, 
or twelve thousand either, bearing no interest, and with 
eight years to run, would have been within the compass 
even of Charles Fox ; and there is no wonder that, at 
such prices, a patron with a fair share of public spirit 
preferred to sit himself, or to keep his borough within 
the family. Indeed, a man who cared nothing for the 
commonwealth, and had a single eye to the main chance, 
might well take the same course ; for there was every 
prospect that a member, however cheaply he got into 
Parliament, when once there would be able to sell him- 
self for as much as ever. 

The County members formed a class by themselves, 
and a class to whom the nation owes an incalculable 
debt. They were great proprietors of long standing in 
their neighbourhood, and true aristocrats, indifferent to 
the frowns and favours of the central government ; 
while they were as proud of the confidence of their con- 
stituents as of the extent of their domains, the age of 
their castles, and the running of their horses. The 
vast sums which leading families spent over a County 
contest are already inconceivable to us who hear men 


of property grumble at having to find twelve or fifteen 
hundred pounds where their ancestors coolly and com- 
placently laid down twice as many thousands. The 
explanation is that, in the eighteenth century, the posi- 
tion of a County member was valued for itself, and not 
for what it might lead to. A rural potentate, who sate 
for the shire in which he lived, was thought as good 
as a lord, and was a great deal better liked, on his own 
countryside, in the London clubs, and especially within 
the walls of Parliament. The House of Commons took 
a domestic interest in a distinction which reflected credit 
on itself. Mr. Coke of Norfolk, with fifty thousand a 
year in his county, represented it for more than fifty 
years, and did not accept a peerage until long after his 
brother members had hailed him with an admiring cheer 
the first time that he walked down the floor after hav- 
ing had a son born to him at the age of seventy-six. 
The belief that the Upper and Lower Houses ought 
to be kept apart, and that their own was the finer insti- 
tution of the two, was held not only by members of 
Parliament, but by the people who elected them. The 
freeholders of Somersetshire went so far as to pledge 
themselves not to vote for the brother or the son of a 
peer of the realm, or for any candidate whom a peer 
supported. 1 It was a sentiment not of recent, and 
certainly not of democratic, origin ; for the feeling of 
Somersetshire had long ago been expressed, with a 
vigour that left nothing to be desired, by the most cele- 
brated Tory who ever killed a fox within its confines. 
" It is true," said Squire Western, " there be larger 
estates in the kingdom, but not in this county. Besides, 
most o' zuch great estates be in the hands of lords, and 
I hate the very name of themmum." 

The honour of representing a shire was neither con- 
ferred lightly, nor retained easily. A candidate, whether 
he presented himself, or whether he was put forward by 
a junta of local grandees, if his name was unfavourably 

1 History of the Boroughs of Great Britain; London, 1794, vol. ii., 
p. 44. 


received by the freeholders in county-meeting assem- 
bled, would find at the declaration of the poll that he 
had lost his money and his labour. Those freeholders 
did not love a new man; and they interpreted the phrase 
in a manner creditable to themselves and to the object 
of their choice. " I cannot," Gibbon wrote to his friend 
Holroyd, "yet think you ripe for a County member. 
Five years are very little to remove the obvious objec- 
tion of a novus homo, and of all objections it is perhaps 
the most formidable. Seven more years of an active 
life will spread your fame among the great body of the 
Freeholders, and to them you may one day offer your- 
self on the most honourable footing, that of a candidate 
whose real services to the County have deserved, and 
will repay, the favour which he then solicits." 

The County electors proved a man before they took 
him ; but none the less they were careful to see that the 
services which he promised were duly given. Confi- 
dence, with them, was not an empty word ; and they 
permitted their representative an almost boundless lati- 
tude of action at Westminster, demanding only that he 
should not be inactive. They expected that he should 
attend diligently and faithfully to the business of the 
nation, all the more because they were ready to allow 
that he understood that business better than themselves. 
George Selwyn, as a borough member, soon found that 
his constituents troubled themselves very little about 
what he did, or left undone, so long as he refrained 
from cutting off their water supply, which came from a 
hill on his estate ; and was at the pains of forwarding 
to the Prince of Wales, with the compliments of the 
Corporation, their annual offering of a lamprey pie. 
When he played truant during a political crisis, they 
were personal friends, and not electors, who appealed 
to his loyalty towards George the Third and, where that 
failed, to his self-interest. "You are now," wrote Lord 
Bolingbroke in 1767, "attending a sick friend; but I 
believe the Earls will think you have neglected the first 
of all duties, that of being ready to vote as they order. 


In short, George, you who love your namesake, and 
hate to see a poor helpless young man like himself op- 
pressed by the obstinacy of such men as George Gren- 
ville and Lord Rockingham, must fly to his assistance. 
Consider the obligations you have to him, and do not 
let him be forced to give your place away to somebody 
who will attend." When Selwyn was longer absent 
from town than usual, his correspondents, writing with 
quite sufficient breadth of detail, affected to believe that 
he was detained by the attractions of a lady; — a sup- 
position which, as applied to him, passed in that cir- 
cle for the height of irony. But the movements of a 
County representative were subjected to a much more 
jealous scrutiny. " The member of St. Germans might 
lurk in the country, but the Knight of Cornwall must 
attend the House of Commons." So wrote Gibbon 
about his cousin Mr. Eliot, with a lazy sense of supe- 
riority very consolatory to a man of letters who had 
already discovered himself to be no debater, and was 
beginning to suspect that he was not meant for a mem- 
ber of Parliament. 

The great country gentlemen in the House of Com- 
mons entertained the prejudices of their order; and 
some among them had their full allowance of faults as 
individuals ; but they felt that consciousness of respon- 
sibility which animates a race of men who, over and 
over again, and time out of mind, have decided the fate 
of a nation. They and their forerunners, for a century 
and a half back, had borne their share in those succes- 
sive political reactions which, in defiance of strict logic, 
had saved England alternately from arbitrary power 
and factious violence. Foresight was not their strong 
point, particularly when it was a question of running 
counter to the wishes of the sovereign. They never 
had been very quick to detect and withstand the early 
stages of a dangerous policy ; but, in the last resort, 
they were not going to see their country ruined. More- 
over their hands were pure. Quiet folks in the villages, 
who were well aware that their own part in a system 


based upon profusion and venality was to get nothing 
and pay for everything, never felt so comfortable as 
when they were represented at St. Stephen's by a man 
who desired to be no greater or richer than he was, 
whether the motive of his contentment was personal 
pride, or public spirit, or both of them together. Those 
County magnates, who likewise were County members, 
detested placemen as cordially as did their constituents. 
The most important division, both in its moral and 
political aspects, which took place between the adoption 
of the Grand Remonstrance and the Second Reading 
of the Great Reform Bill, was on the occasion when, 
in April 1780, Parliament was called upon to declare 
that the growing influence of the Crown was disastrous 
to the nation. In that division sixty-two among the 
English County members voted for the Resolution, and 
only seven against it. 

Holding their heads high, these men did not esteem 
themselves as delegates, and still less as courtiers, but as 
senators in the true sense of the term ; and not even the 
Roman senate, in its most powerful days, was more 
supremely indifferent to the pressure of outside forces. 
Party organisation, as we know it, was not then in exist- 
ence. A man who asked nothing from the Govern- 
ment was free to take his own line. If he was not 
himself a leader, he sought for direction from those of 
his colleagues whose judgement he trusted, and who put 
forward their views in a manner which pleased his taste 
and persuaded his reason. The very last quarter to 
which he would look for guidance was the daily press, 
at a time when reporters were almost sure to be excluded 
from a debate on any question by which opinion was 
deeply stirred, and when editors were much too afraid 
of the Speaker's Warrant to be formidable censors, or 
frank and effective counsellors. The more sessions a 
House of Commons had sat ; the more good speeches 
it had heard ; and the further it was removed from a 
general election, with all the opportunity for the exertion 
of illegitimate influence which at such a time a bad min- 


istry enjoyed; — the better instrument it became for 
conducting the business of the country. That was the 
deliberate opinion of Burke ; and he held it so strongly 
that he refused to support any proposal for shortening 
the duration of parliaments. So greatly, he said, were 
members affected by weighty arguments, cleverly put, 
that it was worth any man's while to take pains to speak 
well; and if, like Charles Fox, he spoke well whether 
he took pains or not, such a Parliament as that in which 
he now found himself was the very arena for an orator. 
He had fallen on days when rhetoric was at a premium, 
if only it was spontaneous; if it had good sense behind it; 
and if the quarter from which it came was favourably re- 
garded by those for whose benefit it was produced. Aris- 
tocrats to the core, they lent their ears the more readily 
to one of themselves; and the titles of Fox to rank as an 
aristocrat, though abnormal, were generally and willingly 
recognised. His grandfather on the one side had been 
with Charles the First on the scaffold. His great-great- 
grandfather on the other side had stood to the same 
monarch in a much nearer relation ; and the world had 
changed too little since the days of Monmouth and the 
Duke of Berwick for men of the world to trouble them- 
selves greatly about the obliquity of the channel through 
which royal blood flowed in the veins of one whom they 
liked, and, to their surprise, were beginning even to re- 
spect. Charles had led his contemporaries, and only too 
many of his elders, in a career of fashion and folly; as he 
was now to lead them, with a pre-eminence equally un- 
disputed, along more arduous and reputable paths. He 
sprang from a line of statesmen, conspicuous in place 
and long in years, though not in numbers ; for Stephen 
Fox was serving the Crown four generations before ever 
his grandson entered public life. That grandson had 
now the authority of an old member in a fresh Parlia- 
ment, which only knew his scrapes by hearsay, and, 
(whatever might be the case with its successor,) was not 
destined to witness a repetition of them. Eloquent and 
attractive, kindly and familiar with high and humble, 


he was inspired by a great cause with the new and 
needed qualities of patience, industry, and caution. In 
six years he acquired over his colleagues a mastery which, 
if the next dissolution had been deferred for another 
twelvemonth, would have made him, (what he soon 
afterwards became, and but for the unwisdom of a 
moment might have remained,) the master of the coun- 
try. But that House of Commons, before it passed 
away, — teachable by events, and great in spite of errors, 
— had dealt a mortal blow to the famous system which 
the King and Bute, with the potent aid of Charles Fox's 
father, had constructed. It was a system which, as its 
one achievement of the first order, brought about the 
American war, and so made England sick, once and for 
all, of the very name of Personal Government. 

But the lesson had not been learned when, late in 
November 1774, the Parliament met. For all that ap- 
peared on the surface, there was nothing to distinguish 
the occasion from others. Few signs were visible of 
serious dissatisfaction, or even of widespread interest. 
The King's speech began as usual with a tirade against 
the province of Massachusetts, and a guarded allusion 
to the spirit of disaffection prevalent in the other colo- 
nies ; and the Opposition went to work in their desultory 
fashion. They confined themselves to asking for copies 
of the official correspondence relating to America, and 
for leave to defer making up their minds till further 
information had been given ; but, small as was the de- 
mand which they made upon the courage of their party, 
they only succeeded in rallying seventy-three adherents. 
Even this paltry skirmish was as jealously guarded from 
the eyes of unprivileged spectators as the Potsdam ma- 
noeuvres. The precincts were cleared of all strangers 
except members of the Irish Parliament, who were 
allowed what was for them the very superfluous op- 
portunity of witnessing how smoothly things went in a 
Deliberative Assembly which was managed by bribery. 
Charles Fox gave the new House a first taste of his 


quality, and denounced the closing of the gallery as a 
mere trick to stifle inquiry ; to shorten debate ; and to 
enable ministers to maintain a convenient silence, and 
an air of unconcern which, alarming as they must have 
known the state of the nation to be, with characteristic 
effrontery they still professed to feel. 

In spite of all precautions against publicity, one sen- 
tence got abroad which threw as much light on the in- 
tentions of the Government as many speeches ; for Lord 
North contrived to say that the last Parliament had 
been a good one. He said it with Wilkes opposite him, 
whose presence in the existing House of Commons was 
an unspoken but unanswerable condemnation of the 
House which had preceded it. For six years the law 
had been strained and violated, popular rights had been 
trampled under foot, disorder had been provoked, and 
blood been shed ; and all this had been done in order to 
establish the contention, — not that John Wilkes had 
been unduly elected, — but that he was unfit and un- 
worthy then, or ever, to be a member of Parliament. 
And now he was visible on his bench, with his colleague 
for Middlesex, and three out of the four members for 
London City, round him ; all of whom had signed a 
paper which virtually was an agreement to do as Wilkes 
bade them. There he sate, in secure anticipation of 
that popularity which, in the most good-natured of 
assemblies, awaits a man whom it has taken special and 
notorious pains to keep outside its doors. In order to 
prevent his election George the Third had been prepared 
copiously to administer those " gold pills " by which he 
thought it becoming for a King of England to influence 
public opinion. He had compassed town and country 
in vain to find Wilkes an opponent, and had urged the 
Secretary of the Treasury to set the Middlesex election 
" again on float," after Mr. Robinson himself had pro- 
nounced it as past praying, or paying, for. It was, in- 
deed, a pill too bitter to be gilded. Wilkes could not 
be excluded from Parliament, and still less could he be 
ejected when once he had got there; for no candidate 


would face the crowd at Brentford, and no minister cared 
to have Wilkes and America on his hands at the same 
moment. There was something heroic in the compla- 
cent dignity with which Johnson, (writing, it can hardly 
be doubted, on a hint from the Minister,) announced 
that the most awkward of customers was at last to be 
left with all the honours of victory. " They," said the 
Doctor, " who are still filling our'ears with Mr. Wilkes, 
lament a grievance that is now at an end. Mr. Wilkes 
may be chosen, if any will choose him ; and the prece- 
dent of his exclusion makes not any honest or decent 
man think himself in danger." 1 The warning which 
the situation contained, if George the Third had rightly 
interpreted it, would have been cheaply purchased at the 
price of even a deeper humiliation. For the aspect of 
Wilkes among the crowd of members, cheerfully listen- 
ing to the King's Speech at the bar of the House of 
Lords, was a foretaste of the scene eleven years later on 
when Mr. John Adams, the accredited Envoy from the 
United States, presented himself at St. James's as the 
first of all his fellow-citizens to stand before his Majesty 
in a diplomatic character. 

On the earliest day that Parliament, and most of all a 
new Parliament, is assembled after a troubled and event- 
ful recess, inexperienced politicians, who expect great 
things, are surprised to find that, instead of being very 
noisy and angry, everybody is very shy. But in 1774 
the deadness was of longer duration than a single even- 
ing ; for it was in the men and not in the moment. The 
winter session ran its course. Estimates were brought 
forward ; soldiers, sailors, and monies were voted ; and 
week after week of December slipped along as quietly 
as if the affairs of an empire, at peace with itself through- 
out its borders, were being administered by a cabinet 
of Solons. The fact was that the principal members of 
the Opposition were engaged among themselves in one 
of their periodical discussions of a proposal which had 

1 The Patriot, 1774. 


for them an extraordinary attraction, and on which they 
expended as much ink, in trying to convince each 
other, as would have covered every bookseller's counter 
in the kingdom with pamphlets showing up the policy 
of the Government. That proposal, to use their own 
favourite description, was a plan of non-attendance for 
Lord Rockingham's friends. The notion was that Eng- 
land would be brought to her senses by the contempla- 
tion of the empty benches. For very shame she would 
gird herself to the task of fighting her own political 
battles until such time as she could prevail on her 
leaders to leave their tent, and place themselves once 
more at the head of a resolute and repentant host of 
followers. The prospect was flattering ; and the Rock- 
inghams would long ago have tried the experiment but 
for Burke, who told them that their secession must infal- 
libly result in the Ministry being more free than ever for 
mischief, and in their being themselves forgotten by the 
public. ' Till the Christmas holidays, however, were over 
they could defend their inactivity by the excuse that 
they were waiting for Papers. On the nineteenth of 
January the Papers came. Lord North presented to the 
House a collection of letters, not from Massachusetts 
only, but from the governors of every colony, which 
proved beyond doubt or question that the whole conti- 
nent of America, from New Hampshire to Georgia, had 
imitated, and in many instances outstripped, Boston in 
what the King's speech had described as violent and 
criminal resistance and disobedience to the law. 

The case was presented in a style which might well 
arouse the envy of a modern politician whose vocation it 
has been to pick out the essential incidents in a long 
story from among the tiresome, and intricate, details 
with which the omnivorous appetite of Parliament has 
for many years past compelled the Foreign Office, and 
the Colonial Office, to load its table. With no official 
jargon, but in plain Eighteenth-century English, such as 
was spoken by the people whose deeds were being 
related, and by the members of Parliament who were to 


read the papers, the Governors and Deputy Governors 
set forth their budget of disastrous and ominous tidings. 
They told how the tea-ships had been turned away 
from every port where they showed themselves ; how 
the farmers were drilling and arming, and were sinking 
the boats and overturning the carts which conveyed for- 
age and provisions for the use of the army ; how the 
Judges had cried off from their duties, and the King's 
writ had altogether ceased to run ; and how the Governor 
of New Hampshire had just completed his admirable 
arrangements for supplying the wants of the garrison 
in Boston when the people of Portsmouth, his own prin- 
cipal trading-town, rose upon him, stormed his arsenal, 
and carried off a hundred barrels of powder. The one 
bright spot was in Virginia, where, when the House of 
Burgesses had turned themselves into a Convention, and 
met without leave from the Governor, the Headmaster 
of the Grammar-school had refused to preach them a 
sermon ; but, as the Patriots were much better provided 
with eloquence than with ammunition, the news from 
Williamsburg did not counterbalance the serious charac- 
ter of the news from Portsmouth. Graver by far than 
any acted manifestations of discontent and estrange- 
ment were the Resolutions which had been passed at 
Philadelphia by that Congress in which Patrick Henry 
and the Adamses had been spokesmen, and Washing- 
ton a guiding spirit. What purpose, human or divine, 
could be served by trying to dragoon such a population, 
so led and so minded, living along fifteen hundred miles 
of coast across three thousand miles of ocean, into pay- 
ing a threepenny duty into the British Treasury ? 

It was a problem striking enough to impress the Poet 
Laureate. Whitehead thought the moment come for 
singing a word in season to the address of his Sover- 
eign, and in 1775 he thus invoked the powers who guide 
the hearts of kings : — 

" Beyond the vast Atlantic tide 
Extend your healing influence wide 
Where millions claim your care. 


Inspire each just, each filial thought, 
And let the nations round be taught 
The British oak is there !" 

The advice was well meant ; but it fell as flat as the 
lines in which it was couched. Mason has commended 
Whitehead for insinuating sound counsel into the royal 
ear, in the shape of praise for wisdom and clemency 
which George the Third, unfortunately, had not the 
slightest intention of meriting. The Laureates of the 
eighteenth century were not of those to whom either 
kings or commoners looked for a contribution to the 
stock of political wisdom ; nor, (except in the case of 
Warton,) for any other wisdom. Mason, a stout Whig, 
judged favourably of Whitehead's performances ; but 
Samuel Johnson, who liked his politics even less than 
his poetry, called his odes " insupportable nonsense"; 
and posterity, irrespective of politics, has agreed with 
Johnson. Whitehead won his spurs, (if that phrase can 
be applied to the rider of such a Pegasus,) by a satire 
the title of which was " An Epistle on the Danger of 
Writing in Verse." It was his earliest serious perform- 
ance ; and it would have been well if the reflections 
which the theme suggested had warned him never to 
attempt another. So far as rhymes can throw light 
upon the relations of George the Third to the colonies, 
mankind will neglect Whitehead, and turn to the Birth- 
day Ode of another bard who was not of the stuff out 
of which, in his day, a Poet Laureate was cut. What 
Robert Burns thought about the American war, and the 
policy of its royal author, may be seen in the fourth 
and fifth stanzas of "A Dream," — which he wrote, 
or professed to have written, on the Fourth of June, 
1786. The poem is like the best Aristophanes, on 
those occasions when Aristophanes was writing with a 
serious political purpose underlying his humour and his 
fancy. There is nothing in the Choruses of the Old 
Greek Comedy more Attic, in every essential quality, 
than the admonition addressed to the Prince of Wales, 
the advice to the young Princesses, the compliments to 


Lord Chatham and his famous son, the allusion to the 
loss of America, and the homely and downright judg- 
ment passed upon those Ministers whom, during the 
first two and twenty years of his reign, the king had 
delighted to honour. 

" 'Tis very true, my sovereign king, 
My skill may weel be doubted : 
But facts are chiels that winna ding, 

And downa be disputed. 
Your royal nest, beneath your wing, 

Is e'en right reft and clouted; 
And now the third part o' the string, 
An' less will gang about it 
Than did ae day. 

" Far be't frae me that I aspire 
To blame your legislation, 
Or say ye wisdom want, or fire 
To rule this mighty nation ! 
But, faith ! I muckle doubt, my Sire, 

Ye've trusted ministration 
To chaps wha in a barn, or byre, 
Wad better fill'd their station 
Than courts yon day." 



The King had long ago settled his policy. " I am 
clear," he announced to Lord North in the previous 
September, " that there must always be one tax to keep 
up the right ; and, as such, I approve of the Tea Duty." 
To secure this object he was prepared to fight, and was 
in a hurry to begin. Ten days before Parliament met, 
the first instalment of the American news had already 
reached him. "I am not sorry," he wrote, "that the 
line of conduct seems now chalked out, which the en- 
closed despatches thoroughly justify. The New Eng- 
land Governments are in a state of rebellion. Blows 
must decide whether they are to be subject to this 
country, or independent." He made no attempt to 
conceal his satisfaction when he learned that the quar- 
rel could not be patched up ; and yet he did not, like 
Napoleon, love war for its own sake ; nor, like Louis 
the Fourteenth, was he unscrupulously eager to make his 
country great, and his own name great with it. Almost 
as soon as he mounted the throne he had given a con- 
vincing proof of his indifference to personal glory and 
national aggrandisement. At a time of life when the 
desire of fame is a sign of virtue, or at worst a venial 
fault, during the height of the most triumphant war in 
which Britain has been engaged, he had thrust from 
power the ablest war-minister whose deeds have been 
recorded in her history ; and he deserted the greatest ally 
we ever possessed, at the exact moment of that ally's 
greatest need. To the end of his days Frederic of Prussia 
did not forget the pang of that appalling and unexpected 
vol. i. 225 Q 


blow ; and we were soon to learn that, when he remem- 
bered an injury, he was not of a nature to forgive it. 
The warlike promptings which actuated George the 
Third were neither ambitious nor patriotic, but political. 
He looked on the Americans not as foreign enemies 
arrayed against England, but as Englishmen who wanted 
more liberty than he thought was good for them ; and 
he sent his fleets and his armies against them just as 
he would have ordered his Footguards to support the 
constables in clearing the street of a mob of VVilkites. 

On one point, and one point alone, the King was in 
agreement with the great statesman out of whose con- 
trol, as the first act of his reign, he had taken the des- 
tinies of the country. Chatham, like George the Third, 
regarded the colonists as compatriots. In his sight they 
were Englishmen, who did not choose to be taxed with- 
out being represented ; Whigs, who had not abandoned 
the principles of the Great Revolution ; fellow-citizens, 
who could not be subjugated without prospective, and 
even imminent, danger to the liberties of both our own 
islands. For Ireland had as much at stake as Great 
Britain, and Irishmen of all religions and classes were 
alive and awake to the consequences which would ensue 
at home if the cause 'of America was overborne and 
ruined. In such a contest, (so Chatham insisted,) every 
man had a right, or rather every man was under an 
obligation, to choose his side in accordance with the 
political faith which was in him. This was not a struggle 
against an external foe, but a dispute within our own 
family. " I trust," he wrote on the Christmas eve of 
1774, "that it will be found impossible for freemen in 
England to wish to see three millions of Englishmen 
slaves in America." A month afterwards he had read 
the parliamentary papers, with the insight of one who 
had received and answered a thousand despatches from 
the same regions. "What a correspondence!" he ex- 
claimed. " What a dialogue between Secretary of State 
and General in such a crisis ! Could these bundles reach 
the shades below, the remarks of Ximenes and of Cortez 


upon them would be amusing." He need not have 
brought Ximenes in. When Chatham closed the vol- 
ume, a yet stronger ruler than the Spaniard, and one 
who knew even better how to write to colonies and how 
to fight for them, had made himself master of the miser- 
able narrative. 

Already, before he knew the particulars, the heart of 
Chatham was too hot for silence. As the doom against 
America, (to use his own phraseology,) might at any 
hour be pronounced from the Treasury Bench, no time 
was to be lost in offering his poor thoughts to the public, 
for preventing a civil war before it was inevitably fixed. 
On the first day that the Lords met after Christmas he 
moved to address his Majesty to withdraw the troops 
from Boston, in order to open the way towards a happy 
settlement of the dangerous troubles in America. It 
was not a tactical success. Chatham had told Rocking- 
ham beforehand that he intended to pronounce himself 
against insisting on that theoretical right to tax America 
which Rockingham's own government had asserted in 
the Declaratory Act of 1766. Some of the Whigs were 
unwilling to throw over a Statute which, in its day, had 
formed part of a great compromise. Others were pre- 
pared to consider the question of repealing the Act, 
whenever that " proper time " arrived which in politics is 
always so very long upon its journey. The more pru- 
dent of them exerted themselves to suppress any public 
manifestation of the annoyance which their party felt. 
"My Lord," wrote the Duke of Manchester to his 
leader, " you must pardon my freedom. In the present 
situation of affairs nothing can be so advantageous to 
Administration, nothing so ruinous to opposition, nothing 
so fatal to American liberty, as a break with Lord Chat- 
ham and his friends. I do not mean to overrate his 
abilities, or to despair of our cause, though he no longer 
existed ; but, while the man treads this earth, his name, 
his successes, his eloquence, the cry of the many, must 
exalt him into a consequence perhaps far above his 
station." But the resentment of the Rockinghams was 



all the more bitter because they had to keep it among 
themselves. In their communications with each other 
they charged Chatham with the two unpardonable Parlia- 
mentary crimes of forcing their hand, and taking the 
wind out of their sails ; and in the House they supported 
him reluctantly, and in small numbers. 

But that was all of little moment compared with the 
fact that a famous and faithful servant of England had 
made known, to all and sundry, his view of the conduct 
which, at that complicated crisis, loyalty to England 
demanded. William Pitt, then in his sixteenth year, 
had helped his father to prepare for the debate ; a pro- 
cess which, according to the experience of others who 
enjoyed the same privilege, consisted in hearing a grand 
speech delivered from an arm-chair, entirely different in 
arrangement, in wording, and in everything except the 
doctrine which it enforced, from the series of grand 
speeches which next day were declaimed in public 
when the orator had his audience around him. 1 " The 
matter and manner," (so the lad wrote to his mother on 
the morning after the discussion,) "were striking; far 
beyond what I can express. It was everything that was 
superior; and, though it had not the desired effect on 
an obdurate House of Lords, it must have had an infi- 
nite effect without doors, the bar being crowded with 
Americans. Lord Suffolk, I cannot say answered him, 
but spoke after him. My father has slept well, but is 
lame in one ankle from standing so long. No wonder 
he is lame. His first speech lasted over an hour, and 
the second half an hour ; surely the two finest speeches 
that ever were made before, unless by himself." The 
most notable passage was that in which Chatham de- 
clared that the cause of America was the cause of all 

1 " I was at Hayes," (said Doctor Franklin,) " early on Tuesday, agreea- 
ble to my promise, when we entered into consideration of the plans ; but, 
though I stayed near four hours, his Lordship, in the manner, I think, of 
all eloquent persons, was so full and diffuse in supporting every particular 
I questioned, that there was not time to go through half my memorandums. 
lie is not easily interrupted ; and I had such pleasure in hearing him 
that I found little occasion to interrupt him." 


Irishmen, Catholic and Protestant alike, and of all true 
Whigs in England ; and in his mouth the name of Whig 
included every man who was not a friend to arbitrary 
power. The colonists were our countrymen ; and, if 
we persisted in treating them as aliens and foes, the 
perils which awaited us were incalculable. Foreign 
war, (so he told the House of Lords,) was at our door. 
France and Spain were watching our conduct, and wait- 
ing for the maturity of our errors. The argument was 
one not to be employed lightly ; but if ever a statesman 
was justified in referring to our neighbours across the 
British Channel as our natural enemies it was at a period 
when we had been at war with France for thirty years 
out of the last eighty-five, and were still to be at war 
with her for twenty-five years out of the next forty. 
And if ever there was a man who might, without a sense 
of abasement, refer to danger from abroad as an addi- 
tional reason for dealing justly with our own people, it 
was the minister who had fought France until he had 
landed her in such a plight that no one, unless our 
government was imprudent to madness, could foresee 
the time when she would be in a position to fight us 

Any one who objected to Chatham's attitude on the 
American question was at liberty to term him a poor 
patriot and a bad citizen ; and whatever reproach at- 
tached itself to his fame must be shared by those who 
thought with him. Charles Fox was not easily abashed, 
even when he was in worse company than Chatham's ; 
and at no time of his life did he care what names he 
was called, as long as the course of action which earned 
them was such that he could defend in the face of day. 
He did not shrink from defining, as explicitly and clearly 
as he stated everything, the governing motive by which 
his conduct during those trying years was determined. 
" I hope that it will be a point of honour among us all 
to support the American pretensions in adversity as 
much as we did in their prosperity, and that we shall 
never desert those who have acted unsuccessfully from 


Whig principles, while we continue to profess our ad- 
miration of those who succeeded in the same principles 
in 1688." That was how he wrote to his familiars in 
October 1776, when the colonists were on the edge of 
destruction, and when the liberties of England seemed 
worth but a very few years' purchase in the view of some 
who were neither fools nor cowards. Among them was 
Horace Walpole, who pronounced himself unable to 
conceive how a friend of British freedom could view 
with equanimity the subjection of America. Walpole 
little thought, (he said,) that he should have lived to see 
any single Englishman exulting over the defeat of our 
countrymen, when they were fighting for our liberty as 
well as for their own. Lord Chatham was not such an 
Englishman, nor Charles Fox either. They both of 
them looked upon the conflict as a civil war, in which 
no man was entitled, on any plea whatsoever, to rank 
himself against those whom in his conscience he be- 
lieved to be in the right. 

But when France stepped in, and our country was in 
danger, Fox took his place amongst the foremost, — 
nay, it may be said, as the foremost, — of Britain's de- 
fenders ; for no public man, out of office, has ever before 
or since played so energetic and effective a part in the 
management of a great war. " Attack France," he 
cried, "for she is your object. The war against Amer- 
ica is against your own countrymen ; that against France 
is against your inveterate enemy and rival." In a series 
of speeches, replete with military instinct, he argued in 
favour of assuming the offensive against the fresh as- 
sailants who came crowding in upon a nation which 
already had been fighting until it had grown weary and 
disheartened. Aggressive action, (so he never ceased 
repeating,) was alike dictated by the necessities of the 
situation, and by the character, the spirit, and the tradi- 
tions of our people. He urged the ministry, with mar- 
vellous force, knowledge, and pertinacity, to rescue the 
navy from the decay into which they had allowed it to 
sink. When the French and Spanish fleets rode the 


Channel, with a superiority in ships of the line of two 
to one, his anxiety carried him, and kept him, as close 
to the scene of action as the most enterprising of lands- 
men could penetrate. He haunted the country houses 
and garrison towns of the south-western coast, and lived 
much on shipboard, where, as any one who knows sailors 
could well believe, he was a general favourite. He 
shared the bitter mortification which his gallant friend, 
the future Lord St. Vincent, felt when kept in harbour 
at such a moment ; and he went so far as to entertain 
a hope of finding himself, a cheery and popular stowa- 
way, in the thick of what promised to be the most des- 
perate battle which, on her own element, England would 
ever have fought. He sympathised warmly with those 
of his comrades and kinsmen who, having refused to 
serve against America, were rejoiced at the prospect of 
active employment when France entered the field ; just 
as a royalist, who would have cut off his right hand 
rather than fire a pistol for the Parliament at Dunbar 
or Worcester, might have been proud to do his share 
among Cromwell's soldiers when they were driving the 
Spanish pikemen across the sandhills at Dunkirk. With 
a steady grasp, and unerring clearness of vision, Fox 
steered his course through intricate and tempestuous 
waters ; and he succeeded in reconciling, under diffi- 
culties as abstruse as ever beset a statesman, his fidelity 
to a political creed with the duty which he owed to his 

At the commencement of 1775 Charles Fox was still 
sadly behindhand in respect to the private virtues and 
proprieties ; but, as a statesman, he already was for- 
midable by the virility of his powers and the fixity of 
his purpose. With his immediate object plain before 
him, he went forth to take his place in a world too wise 
to consider youth a drawback. He was of the age at 
which, ten years later on, Pitt superseded him in his 
position as the first public man in Europe, and at which, 
after another ten years, Napoleon in his turn superseded 


Pitt. Of the disadvantages which hampered others, 
none existed for Fox. He was not, like the Rocking- 
hams, bound by his antecedents to maintain against 
America an abstract right of taxation, that could not be 
enforced except by the sword which they thought it a 
crime to draw. He was not, like Chatham, separated 
from the majority of the Opposition by mutual dislike 
and distrust. Fox was quite ready to pull with the 
Whigs, if only they would do their share of work ; and 
he already was busy in the task of keeping them up to 
the collar. "I am clear," he wrote to Burke, "that a 
secession is now totally unadvisable, and that nothing 
but some very firm and vigorous step will be at all 

By this time many people were looking about to see 
where firmness and vigour could be found ; for the news 
from America had begun to arouse the classes which 
worked the hardest, and paid the most, to a perception 
of the dangers towards which the country was being 
hurried. " The landed interest," so Camden told Chat- 
ham before the middle of February, " is almost alto- 
gether anti-American, though the common people hold 
the war in abhorrence, and the merchants and trades- 
men for obvious reasons are likewise against it." Burke 
complained to Mr. Champion, the constituent whom he 
honoured with his confidence, that if men with business 
interests had interfered decisively, when in the previous 
winter the American question became acute, concilia- 
tory measures would most certainly have been adopted. 
Now, he said, they were beginning to stir because they 
began to feel. It so happens that the exact date is 
known when the true state of matters was first borne 
in upon the public mind. A letter from London to a 
gentleman in New York, dated the sixth of December, 
1774, runs as follows: "This day there was a report 
current that the Congress of the States of America had 
adjourned, having fixed on stopping all imports into 
America from Great Britain the first of this month. 
From curiosity I strolled upon 'Change, and for the 


first time saw concern and deep distress in the face of 
every American merchant. This convinced me of the 
truth of what I may have said before, that the mer- 
chants will never stir till they feel ; and every one 
knows that the manufacturers will never take the lead 
of the merchants." 1 

The public despatches were alarming enough to those 
who reflected that Governors and Lieutenant-Governors 
would naturally have put the best face possible on a 
situation which they themselves had done much to 
create. But those despatches did not tell the worst. 
Men could still write freely to each other across the 
Atlantic ; and the advices received by city merchants and 
bankers were of a complexion to fill everybody, except 
speculators for a fall, with a feeling nothing short of blank 
dismay. No official papers from Maryland had been 
printed, and it might have been supposed that no news 
was good news as far as that colony was concerned ; 
but before December ended it came to be known that 
a principal seaport of Maryland had placed itself in line 
with Boston. When the brig Peggy Stewart of Lon- 
don, having on board two thousand pounds " of that 
detestable weed tea," arrived at Annapolis, Messrs. Will- 
iam and Stewart, to whom the cargo was consigned, 
put their hands to a paper acknowledging that they had 
committed an act of most pernicious tendency to the 
liberties of America. The same gentlemen then went 
on board the said vessel, with her sails set and colours 
flying, and voluntarily set fire to the tea. In a few 
hours the whole freight, and the ship with it, had been 
consumed by the flames in the presence of a great mul- 

1 The style of the letter to New York, with the curious similarity in cer- 
tain expressions to those employed in the letter to Champion, renders it 
more than possible that it was written by Burke, who, three years before, 
had been appointed agent to the Assembly of New York with a salary of 
500/. a year. It is true that he despatched a long and very famous epistle 
from his home in Buckinghamshire on the fifth of December ; but he was 
speaking in the House of Commons that evening, and again on the sixth ; 
and he might well have gone on 'Change on the morning of the second of 
those two days before writing the letter to the gentleman in New York. 


titude of spectators. When the letter notifying this 
transaction to the London correspondents of the unfort- 
unate firm was passing up and clown Threadneedle 
Street, many a warm city man must have felt a shiver 
go through him. In the same month a Whig noble- 
man received an account of the warlike preparations in 
America, written at Philadelphia by General Lee, whose 
reputation in fashionable military circles lent weight to 
language which, like himself, was less soldierly than 
soldatesque. " What devil of a nonsense can instigate 
any man of General Gage's understanding to concur in 
bringing about this delusion ? I have lately, my Lord, 
run through almost the whole colonies from the North 
to the South. I should not be guilty of an exaggeration 
in asserting that there are 200,000 strong-bodied active 
yeomanry, ready to encounter all hazards. They are 
not like the yeomanry of other countries, unarmed and 
unused to arms. They want nothing but some arrange- 
ment, and this they are now bent on establishing. Even 
this Quaker province is following the example. I was 
present at a review at Providence in Rhode Island, and 
really never saw anything more perfect. Unless the 
banditti at Westminster speedily undo everything they 
have done, their royal paymaster will hear of reviews 
and manoeuvres not quite so entertaining as those he is 
presented with in Hyde Park and Wimbledon Common." 
The time was too surely approaching when communi- 
cations addressed from America to gentlemen and 
noblemen in London would never get further than the 
secret room in the Post Office; and colonists who wished 
for peace hastened, while the avenues were open, to en- 
lighten and admonish those English public men whom 
they could hope to influence. At the end of 1774 a 
member of the British Parliament was informed in two 
letters from Pennsylvania that there were gunsmiths 
enough in the Province to make one hundred thousand 
stand of arms in one year, at twenty-eight shillings 
sterling apiece ; that the four New England colonies, 
together with Virginia and Maryland, were completely 


armed and disciplined ; and that nothing but a total 
repeal of the Penal Acts could prevent a civil war in 
America. The writer dealt as freely with large figures 
as General Lee ; but he understood his countrymen bet- 
ter in a case where the merits of that officer were con- 
cerned ; for the letters went on to explain that the 
colonies were not so wrapped up in the General's military 
accomplishments as to give him, when it came to choos- 
ing the Commander-in-Chief, a preference over Colonel 
Putnam and Colonel Washington, who had won the 
trust and admiration of the continent by their talents 
and achievements. " There are several hundred thou- 
sand Americans who would face any danger with these 
illustrious heroes to lead them. It is to no purpose to 
attempt to destroy the opposition to the omnipotence of 
Parliament by taking off our Hancocks, Adamses, and 
Dickinsons. Ten thousand patriots of the same stamp 
stand ready to fill up their places." Dickinson himself, 
writing not to England, but about England, summed up 
the view of the best and wisest men on his side of the 
controversy. "I cannot but pity," he said, "a brave 
and generous nation thus plunged in misfortune by a few 
worthless persons. Everything may be attributed to 
the misrepresentations and mistakes of Ministers; and 
universal peace can be established throughout the British 
world only by the acknowledgment of the truth that 
half a dozen men are fools or knaves. If their character 
for ability and integrity is to be maintained by wrecking 
the whole empire, Monsieur Voltaire may write an 
addition to the chapter on the subject of ' Little things 
producing great events. ' " 2 

From this time forwards there was a growing disposi- 
tion in the House of Commons to take America seri- 
ously ; and there was a man in it determined never again 
to let the question sleep. On the second of February, 
1775, the Prime Minister moved an Address to the King, 
praying his Majesty to adopt effectual measures for 

1 The extracts given in this and the preceding paragraphs are all from 
the American Archives. 


suppressing rebellion in the colonies. Later in the 
evening a member rose, who, in the style of solemn cir- 
cumlocution by which the chroniclers of proceedings in 
Parliament appeared to think that they kept themselves 
right with the law, was described as " a gentleman who 
had not long before sat at the Treasury Board, from 
whence he had been removed for a spirit not sufficiently 
submissive, and whose abilities were as unquestioned as 
the spirit for which he suffered." 1 Fox, (for Fox of 
course it was,) proposed an amendment deploring that 
the papers laid upon the table had served only to con- 
vince the House that the measures taken by his 
Majesty's servants tended " rather to widen, than to 
heal, the unhappy differences between Great Britain 
and America." That was the turning point of his own 
career, and the starting point for many others in a 
hearty, fearless, and sustained opposition to the policy 
of the Government. The effect of his oratory is estab- 
lished by various competent authorities ; from the official 
reporter, who broke off to remark that Mr. Charles Fox 
spoke better than usual, 2 to Walpole, who records in his 
journals that the young statesman entered into the whole 
history and argument of the dispute with force and 
temper, and made the finest figure he had done yet. 

But the most lively and convincing testimony is found 
in a letter written by a great man who on this occasion 
learned, finally and resignedly, how hard it is even to 
begin making a great speech. Gibbon had been getting 
ready for the debate during the whole of the Christmas 
holidays : studying the parliamentary papers as minutely 
as if they had been the lost books of Dion Cassius ; 
talking for four hours on end with one of the agents 
from Massachusetts ; and " sucking Governor Hutchin- 
son very dry," with as much probability of arriving at a 
just conclusion as a Roman Senator who took his idea 
of the Sicilian character from a private conversation with 
Verres. But, when the hour came, he felt that he him- 

1 The Annual Register for 1775; chapter v. 

2 The Parliamentary History of England, vol. xviii., p. 227. 


self was not the man for it. Throughout the Amend- 
ment on the Address, and the Report of the Address, he 
sate safe but inglorious, listening to the thunder which 
rolled around him. The principal antagonists on both 
days, he said, were Fox and Wedderburn ; of whom the 
elder displayed his usual talents, while the younger, 
embracing the whole vast compass of the question 
before the House, discovered powers for regular debate 
which neither his friends hoped, nor his enemies dreaded. 
On the first day, when Fox discoursed for an hour and 
twenty minutes, his contribution to the discussion is rep- 
resented in the Parliamentary History by an abstract of 
five lines, and on the second day his name is not even 
mentioned ; while Wilkes obtained six columns, and 
Governor Johnston nine. It is evident, and indeed was 
sometimes as good as confessed in a foot-note, that, in 
those early and artless days of reporting, a speaker got 
back in print what he gave in manuscript. Fox would 
as soon have thought of writing down what he was 
going to say as of meeting a bill before it fell due ; and 
the rapid growth of his fame may be estimated by a 
comparison between the reports of 1775, and those of 
1779 and 1780. Before the Parliament was dissolved, his 
more important speeches were reproduced without the 
omission of a topic, and, (so far as the existing re- 
sources of stenography admitted,) without the abbrevia- 
tion of a sentence. 

Fox took the sense of the House on his Amendment, 
and had reason to be satisfied with the result. He had 
been long enough a member of Parliament to have 
learned that, in politics, all's well that ends pretty well. 
The minority mustered over a hundred ; a number ex- 
ceeding by forty the best division which, in the former 
Parliament, was obtained against the worst of the Amer- 
ican measures. It would have been reckoned a most 
weighty protest on any occasion when any House of 
Commons has been invited to take steps which responsi- 
ble ministers affirm to be necessary for vindicating the 
honour, and securing the predominance, of the country ; 


but it was doubly significant in that age of intimidation 
and bribery. All who voted on the one side were per- 
fectly well aware that, in so doing, they cut themselves 
off from the hope of their sovereign's favour, or even 
of his forgiveness. And meanwhile a full half of those 
who voted on the other side were drawing public salary, 
without rendering any public service except that of doing 
as they were bid ; or were fingering money which had 
passed into their pockets from the Exchequer by methods 
that in our day would have been ruinous both to him who 
received, and to him who bestowed. The King pro- 
nounced the majority " very respectable "; as to him, in 
both senses of the word, it no doubt seemed. So pleased 
was he that he kindly condoled with his Minister on hav- 
ing been kept out of bed, (which in the case of Lord North 
was a very different thing from being kept awake,) till 
so late an hour as three o'clock in the morning. 

That minister, however, was less easily satisfied. He 
now knew himself to be face to face with a very differ- 
ent opposition from anything which in the existing 
Parliament he had hitherto encountered ; and he recog- 
nised the quarter from which vitality had been infused 
into the counsels and procedures of his adversaries. 
Before a fortnight had elapsed he came down to the 
House with a Resolution promising, in the name of the 
Commons, that any American colony, in which the As- 
sembly consented to vote money for certain stated pub- 
lic purposes, should be exempted from the liability to 
be taxed by the British Parliament. Every man, in that 
Parliament and outside it, saw that the plan was spe- 
cially and carefully framed to meet the argument on 
which, in his recent speeches, Charles Fox had founded 
the case that he had so brilliantly advocated. Governor 
Pownall, who immediately followed North, stated, in 
well-chosen words which no one ventured to contradict, 
that the Resolution was a peace offering to the young 
ex-minister. 1 Such a recognition would have been a 

1 " An honourable gentleman, in a late debate, certainly was the first, 
and the only one, to hit upon the real jet of the dispute between this coun- 


high compliment from any man in office to any private 
member ; but when paid by a First Lord of the Treasury 
to a former subordinate, who had left his Board within 
the twelvemonth, and had been attacking him ever since, 
it was a piece of practical adulation which put to a 
searching and unexpected proof both the strength of con- 
viction, and the presence of mind, of him to whom it was 

On neither of the two points was Fox unequal to 
the test. While Pownall was speaking, he had time to 
decide on his line of action, the importance of which he 
at once discerned. It was his first chance of showing 
that he possessed the qualities of a true parliamentary 
leader, who could make the most of a tactical situation 
without surrendering, in the smallest particular, his loy- 
alty to a great cause. He commenced his remarks by 
congratulating the public on the change in the Prime 
Minister's attitude. The noble Lord, who had been 
all for violence and war, was treading back in his own 
footprints towards peace. Now was seen the effect 
which a firm and spirited opposition never failed to 
produce. The noble Lord had lent his ear to reason ; 
and, if the minority in that House persevered in sup- 
porting the rights and liberties of the colonies, the 
process of his conversion would go on apace. He had 
spoken of the Americans with propriety and discrimina- 
tion. He had refused to allow that they were rebels ; 
and even to Massachusetts he would gladly open a door 
through which she might return to her allegiance. He 
had distinctly stated that Great Britain, dealing as one 
nation according to diplomatic usage deals with another, 
had at the outset demanded more than in the end 
she would insist on exacting ; and, once that principle 

try and America. He very ably stated that the reason why the colonies 
objected to the levying taxes, for the purposes of a revenue in America, 
was that such revenue took out of the hands of the people that control 
which every Englishman thinks he ought to have over that government to 
which his rights and interests are entrusted. The mode of appropriation 
specified in this Resolution takes away the ground of that opposition." — 
The Parliamentary History of England ; Feb. 20, 1775. 


admitted, the noble Lord would be as much inclined on 
a future day to recede from what he proposed now, as 
now he was ready to give up that which he had before 
so strenuously defended. But for the present the noble 
Lord had not gone far enough. He aimed at standing 
well with the two sets of people whose views were irre- 
concileable : — the colonists who were resolved, under 
no conditions, to admit the right of Parliament to tax 
them ; and the supporters of the Government who were 
equally determined, in every contingency, to assert that 
right and exercise it. The noble Lord had wished 
to content both parties, and he had contented neither. 
On the countenances of gentlemen opposite, so far as 
he was able to read them, the orator could descry no 
symptoms of satisfaction ; and the Americans, it was 
only too certain, must and would reject the offer with 

The speech was marked by the highest art, — that 
of saying precisely what the speaker thought, in the 
plainest language, and without a syllable over. A 
scene ensued when he resumed his place which was 
long remembered within the House of Commons, and 
has occupied a space in English and American histories 
out of all proportion to its intrinsic consequence, except 
so far as it discredited the Prime Minister, and estab- 
lished the position and authority of Fox. It was one 
of those rare moments when a great party, in a tumult 
of indignant surprise, shakes off the control of those 
to whom it is accustomed to look for guidance ; when 
the Ministers sit on thorns, or jump up, each in his 
turn only to confound confusion, and attract on to 
his own head a share of the impertinences with which 
the air is swarming ; and when an opposition feels itself 
repaid in the wilcl joy of a single hour for long years 
of disappointment and abstinence. North, like much 
greater men before and after him, experienced the in- 
convenience of having sprung a policy on his followers, 
and on not a few of his colleagues. The mutiny began 
at headquarters. Welbore Ellis, a placeman who had 


already turned his hundredth quarter-day, querulously 
announced that, as a man of honour, he felt bound to 
oppose the Minister; and though North could hardly 
be called a sick lion, the House hailed with glee an 
occurrence which bore a strong resemblance to a very 
familiar fable. Rigby was seen taking notes, and could 
with difficulty be persuaded to put them back into his 
pocket ; but he did not fail to make his views known 
to that part of the audience which was the least likely 
to be gratified by them. An aside from him was more 
formidable than an oration from Welbore Ellis ; and 
every Right Honourable Gentleman within earshot on 
the Treasury bench was obliged to hear how, in Rigby's 
opinion, the proper persons to move and second Lord 
North's Resolution were Mr. Otis and Mr. Hancock, of 
whom the one had been the ringleader in the agitation 
against the Stamp Act, and the other had superintended 
the destruction of the tea. The most violent in the fray 
was Captain Acland, a cousin by marriage of Charles 
Fox. He was a young man of fierce manners and 
dauntless courage, who now was always to the front 
when sharp words were being exchanged ; especially 
where there was a prospect that on the next morning 
recourse would be had to yet more pointed weapons. 
Acland assailed the Government in a style which aroused 
the wonder even of Chatham ; whose standard of the 
lengths to which a young military man might go, when 
denouncing his elders in the House of Commons, had, 
in the days when he himself was a cornet of horse, been 
notably a generous one. 1 

The real danger to the Ministry lay in the sulkiness 
of the King's Friends. These gentlemen, by an unac- 
countable blunder, had been left without their orders. 
Having to decide for themselves as to what their em- 

1 " Lord North was, in the beginning of the day, like a man exploded, 
and the judgment of the House, during about two hours, was that his 
Lordship was going to be in a considerable minority ; Mr. Ellis and others, 
young Acland in particular, having declared highly and roughly against 
his desertion of the cause of cruelty." — Chatham to his wife ; Feb. 21, 1775. 
vol. 1. R 


ployer expected of them, they naturally enough con- 
cluded that, as in the parallel case of Rockingham and 
the repeal of the Stamp Act, their duty to the King 
required them to stab his Minister in the back. North 
had been up five or six times, and matters were looking 
very black for the Government, when, before it was too 
late, a deft and able ally came to the rescue. Sir Gil- 
bert Elliot was a politician of account in his own gener- 
ation, and had ere this been honoured by a message 
from the King to the effect that he did not take so for- 
ward a part in the House of Commons as his abilities 
warranted. But he needed no one to tell him how to 
make the most of his remarkable qualities ; and he re- 
served himself for emergencies when a King's Friend, 
who could speak as well as vote, was of more value than 
dozens or scores of silent courtiers. 

Gilbert Elliot's political fortunes had gained much, 
but his posthumous celebrity has suffered not a little, 
from the unique distinction of his family ; for he was 
the midmost of five eminent men, with the same Chris- 
tian name and surname, who succeeded each other as 
father and son. The world, glad to have anything by 
which to identify him, has remembered him as the 
writer of a pastoral song, admired by Sir Walter Scott. 
It began with the line, perhaps better known than the 
rest of the poem, 

" My sheep I neglected, I broke my sheep-hook." 

The author of the ditty now proved that he was skilled 
in the use of that rustic implement. Elliot bluntly 
warned the official flock that it was high time to leave 
off butting at each other, and scampering at large over 
the country. He contrived to convey something into 
his manner which suggested to the King's Friends that 
they were on the wrong scent ; as indeed was the case, 
since the whole business had been arranged beforehand 
between the Sovereign and the Minister. The storm 
abated ; and Fox, who saw that there had been suffi- 
cient of it for his purposes, moved that the Chairman 


should leave the Chair. A division took place, and 
there was some cross-voting ; for on both sides there 
were, as usual, certain of those ingenious senators who 
please themselves with thinking that they indicate their 
opinion on the main issue by the course they take on a 
technical point which is understood by no one outside 
Parliament, and by fewer within it than is generally 
believed. And so the business ended, with a twofold 
result. Fox, in his character of a champion of liberty, 
had shown himself not less prompt a warrior, and a 
much more judicious strategist, than in the days when 
he figured as Lord of Misrule in all the sham tourna- 
ments of the House of Commons. And North had been 
effectually frightened, for some long time to come, out 
of any inclination to try his hand at the conciliation of 

The Prime Minister had no desire for a repetition of 
the lesson which that twentieth of February had taught 
him. He saw very plainly what his place would have 
been worth at noon on the twenty-first if the King's 
Friends had been correct in thinking that they had the 
King behind them. So long as North held his present 
employment there was no demand for the services of 
his better self ; and he returned once more to plod the 
weary round of coercive legislation. The main occupa- 
tion of Parliament during that session was a bill for ex- 
cluding the New England colonies from the principal 
fishing grounds within their reach, and notably from 
the banks of Newfoundland. It was out of the cod fish- 
ery that the prosperity of those colonies had originally 
sprung ; and by the same industry it was still largely 
maintained. A sea captain in the early years of the 
seventeenth century calculated that the charge of equip- 
ping a ship of a hundred tons, with eight boats of the 
sort now called " dories " on board, was four hundred 
pounds. " Eight boats with 22 men in a Summer doe 
usually kill 25,000 fish for every Boat. Sometimes 
they have taken above 35,000 for a Boat, so that they 



load not onely their owne Ship, but other spare ships 
which come thither onely to buy the overplus." This 
captain went on to explain that the cargo, if taken in 
the right season to the right market, (which was not 
" Touloune or Merselus," but England,) would sell for 
2,250/. "At New Plimoth, in Aprill," the writer pro- 
ceeded, " there is a fish much like a herring that comes 
up into the small brookes to spawne. After those the 
Cod also presseth in such plenty, even into the very har- 
bours, that they have caught some in their arms, and 
hooke them so fast that three men oft loadeth a Boat 
of two tuns in two houres." 2 

James the First had conferred upon the settlers in 
New England the exclusive privilege of fishing in North 
American waters. That concession was justly resented 
by the English Parliament ; but the colonists forbore 
from enforcing their uttermost, rights, and indeed had 
no occasion for them. They lived and throve by fishing 
not because they were monopolists, but because they 
were on the spot ; because the best boat-builders in the 
world, and very far from the worst ship-builders, had 
their yards at Boston ; and because, above all, they 
belonged to the right race for the work. And now, 
when it was proposed for political objects to drive 
them from the pursuit of their calling, the uneasiness 
which had begun to pervade the commercial world 
deepened into consternation. It was vain for the 
Ministry to hold forth the bait of the spoils of New 
England, and to evoke patriotic cupidity by the pros- 
pect of the three hundred thousand pounds, or the five 
hundred thousand pounds, which would be transferred 
yearly from the ship-owners of Salem and Providence 
to the ship-owners of Poole and Dartmouth. The 
trained leaders of commerce, who knew the open 
secrets of solid and profitable business, did not look 
for information from hack-writers whose statistics and 

1 The account may be found in " The Generall Tlistorie of Virginia, New 
England, and the Summer Isles, by Captaine John Smith, London, 1624"; 
under the head of " Master Dee, his opinion for the building of Ships." 


arguments were dictated to them in Downing Street. 
The whole life of every English merchant and banker, 
and of his father and grandfather before him, had been 
one continuous course of instruction in the present and 
progressing value of the trade with America. The ex- 
ports to Pennsylvania alone had increased fifty-fold in 
less than three-quarters of a century. New England 
was a large and regular customer, with an enormous 
current debt owing to British exporters and manu- 
facturers. That custom would be a thing of the past, 
and those debts could never be recovered, if, with the 
loss of her fishing, she lost the means of providing her- 
self with imported goods, and paying for those which 
she had received already. Nor was it only a question 
of New England. The colonies, one and all, were on 
honour to stand and fall together; and, when the cruel 
and insulting measure now before Parliament was once 
in the Statute-book, all hope that Congress would drop 
the non-importation agreement would have to be defi- 
nitely abandoned. 

This time there was little hesitation in the action of 
the mercantile classes throughout the English-speaking 
world ; and there could be no mistake as to their views, 
which found a voice in petitions, in deputations, and in 
evidence proffered at the bar of the Lords. The planters 
of the Sugar Islands, resident in London, entreated the 
House of Commons to stay its hand. As time went on, 
and the news of what was purposed reached the tropics, 
the Assembly of Jamaica, in the hurry of a well- 
grounded panic, drew up and despatched a petition 
explaining how in their case, with a vast slave popula- 
tion around and among them, the very existence of 
society would be endangered by the cessation of their 
traffic with the American colonies. The Society of 
Friends represented to Parliament the case of Nan- 
tucket, an island which lay off the coast of Massachu- 
setts. The population subsisted on the whale fishery, 
and owned a fleet of one hundred and forty sail. The 
agricultural produce of Nantucket would hardly support 


twenty families ; but the island contained more than 
five thousand inhabitants. Nine out of ten among them 
were Quakers, of whom none were disaffected politi- 
cians, and all drank tea to a man. That was a sample 
of the extent to which the bill would involve opponents, 
well-wishers, and neutrals in one common destruction. 
The sentiments of the higher commerce, in its central 
haunt, found expression in an address laid by the Lord 
Mayor, the Aldermen, and the Liverymen at the foot of 
the Throne. The occupant of that august seat received 
their remonstrance in public with marked coldness, and 
characterised it in private as a new dish of insolence 
from the shop which had fabricated so many. It was a 
shop the proprietors of which could not fairly be charged 
with interfering in matters outside their own province ; 
for the debts due from New England amounted to eight 
hundred thousand pounds in the City of London alone. 
The bill for restraining the trade and commerce of 
the New England colonies afforded Parliament one 
more opening to arrange by policy those difficulties 
which were rapidly tending towards a solution by the 
arbitrament of war. That last opportunity was soon a 
lost one ; but the spokesmen of the minority comported 
themselves in a manner worthy of the supreme occa- 
sion, and of the great assembly to which they belonged. 
It was a question precisely suited to the genius of 
Burke. The final series of appeals in which he ex- 
horted the House of Commons to settle the American 
controversy by light and right, before it came to a con- 
test of might, showed more than his usual power of 
mastering the details of trade and finance, and con- 
verting them into oratory for the instruction of his 
audience, and into literature for the admiration of 
posterity. As member for Bristol he was bound to do 
his utmost in the interests of commerce ; and his con- 
stituents, the best of whom were not undeserving of 
such a representative, had supplied him with fresh 
stores of facts and calculations in addition to those 
which he possessed already. His speaking had never 


been more rich in the fruit, and more sparing in the 
flowers ; and he had his reward in the close and respect- 
ful attention of hearers uneasily conscious that the fate 
of the empire was slipping out of their grasp, and that 
an impulse had been given to it which might carry it 
far in the wrong direction. 

Burke's exertions were supported and supplemented 
by Fox with an abundance, but no superfluity, of that 
straightforward and unlaboured declamation which, 
from his earliest to his latest speech, always commanded 
the ear, and never offended the taste, of the House of 
Commons. With headlong, but sure-handed, energy of 
delineation he sketched out the broad lines of states- 
manship, and filled them in with the special circum- 
stances of the situation. His warning against the folly 
of presenting all Americans, whatever might be their 
political sympathies, with the alternative of starvation 
or rebellion, impressed his listeners by its force and 
directness, and received striking confirmation at the 
critical moments of the war. On three several occasions 
the fate of a campaign was largely influenced by those 
very fishermen who had been driven wholesale from 
their employment into the ranks of Washington's army. 
The enthusiasm, the intrepidity, and the professional 
skill of the mariners, who served as soldiers in the New 
England regiments, enabled their general to deprive the 
British garrison of the supplies which abounded on the 
islands in Boston harbour ; to accomplish the retirement 
from the lines of Brooklyn which averted what otherwise 
must have been a crowning disaster ; and to effect that 
crossing of the Delaware on a mid-winter midnight 
which secured for him the most sorely wanted of all 
his successes. The loyalist poets amused themselves by 
describing how 

"Priests, tailors, and cobblers fill with heroes the camp, 
And sailors, like craw-fish, crawl out of each swamp." 

But, as a matter of history, those sailors had walked 
ashore in a very dangerous temper from the fishing 


vessels which, in consequence of the action of Parlia- 
ment, were lying useless alongside the quays of every 
town and village on the seaboard of New England. 1 

Fox's argument, roughly and insufficiently reported, 
has not come down to us in the shape for insertion in a 
handbook of oratorical extracts ; but it has the stamp of 
a speech hot from the heart, and spoken by a man who 
thought only of convincing or confuting those who 
heard him, without caring how his words would read 
on the next morning, or in another century. " You have 
now," said Fox, " completed the system of your folly. 
You had some friends yet left in New England. You 
yourselves made a parade of the number you had there. 
But you have not treated them like friends. How must 
they feel, what must they think, when the people against 
whom they have stood out in support of your measures 
say to them : ■ You see now what friends in England 
you have depended upon. They separated you from 
your real friends, while they hoped to ruin us by it ; but 
since they cannot destroy us without mixing you in the 
common carnage, your merits to them will not now save 
you. You are to be starved indiscriminately with us. 
You are treated in common with us as rebels, whether 
you rebel or not. Your loyalty has ruined you. Re- 
bellion alone, if resistance is rebellion, can save you 
from famine and ruin.' When these things are said to 
them, what can they answer ? " 

The opposite view to that held by Fox and Burke 
did not suffer for want of being boldly stated. A recent 
addition to the notabilities of Parliament had been made 
in the person of Henry Dundas, now Lord Advocate 
for Scotland, who very soon gave indication of those 
qualities which were to win for him his considerable 
future, and his unenviable fame. He entered on his 
career in the House of Commons with the advantage of 
having early in life played leading parts on a narrower 
stage. He had been Solicitor- General in the Court of 
Session of Edinburgh at four and twenty ; and had 

1 The verse is quoted in Tyler's Literary History. 


learned to debate, if he had learned nothing else there 
for his profit, in the General Assembly of the Church of 
Scotland. Tall and manly, — with a marked national 
accent of which, unlike Wedderburn, he had the good 
sense not to be ashamed, — his look and bearing be- 
tokened indefatigable powers and a dominant nature. 
His face showed evident marks of his having been a 
hearty fellow, for which a convivial generation liked 
him none the less ; especially when they came to find 
that his speeches had other things in them which were 
broad besides their Scotch, 1 and that those who followed 
him closely might hope to carry away what passed for a 
good story after dinner, in circles which were not fas- 
tidious. Dundas now took upon himself to defend the 
ministerial proposal against the strictures of Charles 
Fox. The measure, he said, was not sanguinary ; and, 
as for the famine which was so pathetically lamented, 
his only fear was that the Act would fail to produce it. 
Though prevented from fishing in the sea, the New 
Englanders had fish in their rivers ; and though their 
country was not fit to grow wheat, they had a grain of 
their own, their Indian corn, on which they could sub- 
sist full as well as they deserved. 

Such was the man who, when he was twenty years 
older, and neither more nor less unfeeling, had at his 
absolute disposal the liberties of Scotland, and the lives 
and fortunes of all who loved those liberties too ardently 
for their own safety. On the present occasion Dundas 
had gone further in his self-revelation than was pleasing 
to a House of Commons not yet accustomed to him and 
his ways. Lord John Cavendish, speaking amidst general 
sympathy, gravely rebuked the Minister who had uttered 
sentiments which would have been shocking even in the 
mouth of a parliamentary buffoon ; and Burke followed 

1 Omond's Lord Advocates of Scotland; chapter xiv. Boswell, who had 
his personal jealousies, and his own political ambitions outside the Scotch 
Bar, was greatly exercised when Dundas began to play a part in London. 
He called the new Minister "a coarse dog. The specimen of Dundas's 
humour referred to by Mr. Omond, and reported in the 20th volume of 
the Parliamentary History, is not so much coarse as revolting. 


up the attack in plain vernacular suited to the character 
of the offence which he was chastising. Nothing, he 
said, could be more foolish, more cruel, and more insult- 
ing than to hold out as a resource to the starving fisher- 
men, ship-builders, and ship-carpenters, who would be 
ruined by the Act that, after the plenty of the Ocean, 
they might poke in the brooks, and rake in the puddles, 
and diet on what Englishmen considered as husks and 
draff for hogs. The friends of the Government who had 
been too apt, as Horace Walpole said, to treat the Ameri- 
cans in the spirit of a mob ducking a pickpocket, were 
ashamed at seeing their own worst features distorted in 
that brazen mirror. The Lord Advocate in vain at- 
tempted to extenuate, to explain, and, if possible, to ex- 
cuse his conduct. Even the majority had had enough 
of him ; and the only acceptable sentence of his second 
speech was that in which he announced that he should 
bow to the disposition of the House, and say no more. 

It was time that an example should be made. Sand- 
wich and Rigby were the two Ministers whose words 
went for most, because it was believed that they ruled 
the Government. As if by concert between themselves, 
they now adopted a tone of forced and studied inso- 
lence with reference to the colonists. One would think, 
Rigby said in the House of Commons, that the Ameri- 
cans were otters and ate nothing but fish. As to the 
notion, of which so much had been heard, that they 
might find courage in despair, it was an idea thrown 
out to frighten women and children. They had not 
amongst them the military prowess of a militia drum- 
mer. The Earl of Sandwich enlarged on the same 
theme in the House of Lords. What did it signify, he 
asked, if the colonies abounded in men, so long as they 
were raw, undisciplined, and cowardly ? For his own 
part he wished that they would put into the field not 
forty thousand, but two hundred thousand, so-called 
soldiers ; as the greater their numbers, the easier would 
be the conquest. And then he proceeded to tell the 
peers an anecdote which he professed to have got from 



Sir Peter Warren. He related at considerable length, 
and with infinite gusto, how at the siege of Louisburg in 
1745 the Americans had been placed in the front of the 
army ; how they had shown much elation at the honour 
which had been conferred upon them, though they 
boasted that it was no more than their due ; how they 
all ran away when the first shot was fired ; how Sir 
Peter then posted them in the rear, and told them that 
it was the custom of generals to preserve their best 
troops to the last, especially among the ancient Romans, 
who were the only nation that ever resembled the 
Americans in courage and patriotism. 

The story was a lie, on the face of it. No man with 
a grain of knowledge about military affairs would have 
believed it for a moment ; and no man of honour would 
have repeated it without believing it, even if he were 
not a responsible Minister addressing Parliament. By 
putting it into the mouth of a British Admiral, Sandwich 
insulted not only the Americans, but the honest and 
generous service over which he unworthily presided. 
The speech was a poor compliment to the gratitude, or 
else to the information, of the peers ; for it was known 
and acknowledged that the land force employed in those 
operations, which resulted in the first capture of Louis- 
burg, had been levied in New England, and had behaved 
to admiration. 1 The Lords resented the language which 

1 Parkman says in the first chapter of his Montcalm and Wolfe : " New 
England had borne the heaviest brunt of the preceding wars. Having no 
trained officers, and no disciplined soldiers, and being too poor to maintain 
either, she borrowed her warriors from the workshop and the plough, and 
officered them with lawyers, merchants, mechanics, and farmers. To com- 
pare them with good regular troops would be folly ; but they did, on the 
whole, better than could have been expected, and in the last war achieved 
the brilliant success of the capture of Louisburg." The exploit, Parkman goes 
on to say, was owing partly to good luck, and partly to native hardihood. 

Captain Mahan writes : " The most solid success, the capture of Cape 
Breton Island in 1745, was achieved by the colonial forces of New Eng- 
land, to which indeed the royal navy lent valuable aid ; for to troops so 
situated the fleet is the one line of communication." Lord Stanhope, in 
his History, attributes the taking of Louisburg to the people of New Eng- 
land. " For their commander they chose Mr. Pepperel, a private gentle- 
man, in whom courage and sagacity supplied the place of military skill." 


Sandwich had addressed to them. The Earl of Suffolk, 
Secretary of State though he was, took his colleague of 
the Admiralty roundly to task ; and sixteen peers, in the 
Protest which they entered on the Journals, recorded 
their opinion that the topic so much insisted upon by a 
Lord high in office, namely the cowardice of his Majesty's 
American subjects, had no weight in itself as an argu- 
ment for the bill, and was not at all agreeable to the 
dignity of sentiment which ought to characterise their 

These taunts, directed against a people as high-mettled 
as our own, and more acutely alive to what was said and 
thought about them, exercised on the martial spirit of the 
colonists the same effect as Wedderburn's speech before 
the Privy Council had produced on their political sensi- 
bilities. The records of America, during the next two 
years, indicate on every page how many recruits of the 
choicest sort were impelled into her armies by the deter- 
mination that such a reproach should be proved a cal- 
umny. Her national literature, throughout the next 
generation, shows that the memory rankled long after 
the veterans who survived the war had gone back to the 
stack-yard and the counting-house. Unfortunately no 
one intervened in the debates who, with the authority 
of personal experience, could testify to the real value of 
the colonial militiamen. Those great soldiers, who had 
served with them in the field, were in retirement or in 
the grave. Chatham, who owed them so large a debt, 
was prevented by ill health from coming down to the 
House of Lords in order to abash their detractors. From 
his sick-chamber he wistfully and critically watched all 
that was passing ; and he was not left without his con- 
solations. The Marquis of Granby, before he came of 
age, had been returned as member for the University of 
Cambridge for the sake of the hero whose noble portrait, 
as he stands by his charger, lights up the Great Com- 
bination Room of Trinity College with life and colour. 
The son was resolved that, as far as he could speak for 
his dead father, something should be heard, even at 


second hand, from one who had learned to be a judge 
of courage amid scenes very different from those with 
which the Bedfords were familiar. Breaking silence for 
the first time, he followed Rigby with a fine vindication 
of the colonists, and a happily expressed tribute to the 
Minister who had made use of their valour for the pro- 
tection and enlargement of the Empire. His reward 
was a letter dictated by Chatham, exquisite in feeling, and 
containing words of praise which, coming from such a 
quarter, would do more than volumes of good advice to 
turn a young man into the right path. 1 

It may be observed with satisfaction that the chorus 
of calumny was swelled by no one with soldierly ante- 
cedents, or with the making of a soldier in him. Captain 
Acland, who was much too ready to inform Parliament 
how cordially he disliked the inhabitants of Massachu- 
setts, always spoke of their martial qualities with decency, 
and even with respect. The time was not far distant 
when he learned the whole truth about the fighting value 
of New Englanders. After the last of a succession of 
hot engagements, in all of which he had shown daring 
and skill, he was picked up desperately wounded, well 
within the American lines ; and, in the course of the en- 
suing year, his services to his country were cut short in 
a duel with a brother officer who had sneered in his 
presence at the military character of those colonists 
whom, brave as he was, Acland knew to be no less 
brave than himself. 

1 Chatham to Granby, April 7, 1775 ; from a draft in Lady Chatham's 



Rigby had told the House of Commons that, if the 
Acts against which Congress protested were repealed, 
the seat of the Empire would henceforward be at Phila- 
delphia ; and he recommended gentlemen ambitious of 
a career to transfer themselves to that capital, and enjoy 
the honour of consorting with Dr. Franklin. For the 
great American had now started on his way back across 
the ocean ; though it was no fault of Rigby that he was 
not still in London, and in very uncomfortable quarters. 
If, by the publication of Hutchinson's letters, Franklin 
contributed to embroil the relations between England 
and the colonies, he had abundantly expiated his own 
error, and had done his best to redeem the errors of 
others. His existence during the last fourteen months 
had been one long penance, which he endured manfully 
and patiently, because he was conscious that he, and he 
alone, possessed in combination the knowledge, position, 
character, and capacity indispensable to any one who 
aspired to bring the last faint chance of peace to a suc- 
cessful issue. On the day after the scene in the Privy 
Council Office, he had been dismissed from his Postmas- 
tership; and, of his own accord, he dispensed himself 
from all diplomatic ceremonies, keeping aloof from 
levees, and abstaining from direct and ostensible inter- 
course with Cabinet Ministers, the most powerful among 
whom made no secret of their opinion that the proper 
residence for him was the inside of Newgate. Mean- 
while his wife, to whom he had been happily married 
forty-four years, and frc^ whom, he had been parted 

2 54 


for ten, was dying at home in Pennsylvania ; and he 
never saw her again. But at no time in his life was 
his society so eagerly courted by such eminent men, for 
the promotion of such momentous objects. Chatham, 
(whom Franklin had once found unapproachable, but 
who, as is the case with strong and haughty, but gener- 
ous, natures, had grown mild and mellow with years,) 
secured him as a guest in Kent, called on him at his 
lodgings in a street off the Strand, and took care to be 
seen paying him marked attention in public. In the 
House of Lords the old statesman, with characteristic 
ignorance of the non-essential, took Franklin to the 
space before the throne, which is reserved for Privy 
Councillors and the eldest sons of peers. On learning 
his mistake he limped back to the outer Bar, and com- 
mended his friend to the care of the door-keepers in 
accents which all might hear. 

Lord Howe, now a Rear Admiral, who, if hostilities 
broke out, was sure of an important command, honoured 
himself by an endeavour to avert a war which could 
not fail to bring him wealth, however small might be 
the opportunity for acquiring glory. He commissioned 
his sister to challenge Franklin to a trial of skill at 
chess, and contrived to be within call on an evening 
when the invitation had been accepted. 1 Lord Howe, 
in the phrase of the day, opened himself freely to his 
new acquaintance on the alarming situation of affairs, 
and put him into communication with Lord Hyde, the 
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster ; and Lord Hyde, 
as was well understood all round, meant Lord Dart- 
mouth. The Secretary for the Colonies would have 
given his salary, many times told, to prevent bloodshed; 
though in the last resort he could not induce himself to 
thwart, or even to contradict, a master towards whom he 
entertained a true attachment, and who esteemed him 
as he deserved. For George the Third was at his very 
best when exchanging ideas with Dartmouth for any 

1 Franklin's Account of Negotiations in London for effecting a Recon- 
ciliation between Great Britain and the American Colonies. 


other purpose than that of harrying him into harrying 
the Americans. " If the first of duties," (so the Mon- 
arch wrote to the Minister in July, 1773,) " that to God, 
is not known, I fear no other can be expected ; and as 
to the fashionable word * honour,' that will never alone 
guide a man farther than to preserve appearance. I 
will not add more ; for I know I am writing to a true 
believer ; one who shows by his actions that he is not 
governed by the greatest of tyrants, Fashion." A slave 
of Fashion Dartmouth was not ; but he was too subser- 
vient to Lord North, and most terribly afraid of Lord 
Sandwich. 1 

An unofficial negotiation for settling the difficulties 
between Great Britain and the colonies was set on foot 
forthwith. The details were conducted by Franklin in 
concert with two of those Englishmen of the middle 
class who, if a chance was given them, were able and 
willing to employ upon the business of the nation the 
same diligence and sagacity with which they had long 
managed their own. Mr. Barclay was a well-known 
member of the Society of Friends, as likewise was his 
colleague, Dr. Fothergill ; a physician with a great 
London practice, and a Natural Historian of remark- 
able distinction. Their deliberations took shape in a 
document called by the modest name of a " Paper of 
Hints for Conversation." In truth it was the draft of 
a treaty which, if it had been approved, signed, and 
ratified, would have had a merit rare among the cele- 
brated instruments in history ; — that of terminating a 
sharp and extended controversy rationally, equitably, 
permanently, and without derogation to the self-esteem 
of either of the contracting parties. A copy of the pro- 
posed Articles had been in Dartmouth's hands, and he 

1 His Majesty, on one occasion, asked Dr. Beattie what he thought of 
Lord Dartmouth ; and the author of the Essay on Truth responded with 
effusion which bordered on the fulsome. The King, who spoke and wrote 
a style greatly preferable to that of some among his subjects who most 
pleased the literary taste of the hour, smiled and said: "Doctor Beattie, 
you are perfectly right. I think precisely the same of him myself. He 
is certainly a most excellent man." 


expressed himself about them hopefully and favourably 
in private. On the first of February, 1775, Chatham 
presented to Parliament a Bill for settling the troubles 
in America, and the Secretary for the Colonies begged 
their Lordships not to kill the measure by an immediate 
vote, but to let it lie on the Table until it had received 
their careful and respectful consideration. In his sin- 
cere desire to do his duty, according to the light of his 
own understanding, Dartmouth had for a moment 
forgotten the terrors of the Bedfords. Sandwich, who 
suspected that peace was in the crucible, knew only too 
well that premature publicity may be as discomforting 
to those who are planning good as to those who are 
plotting evil. He chose his moment with a sinister ad- 
dress, worthy of the orator who turned the debate in the 
Second Book of " Paradise Lost." Looking full and 
hard at Franklin, who was leaning over the Bar, Sand- 
wich exclaimed that he had in his eye the person who 
drew up the proposals which were under discussion, — 
one of the bitterest and most mischievous enemies whom 
England had ever known. Chatham hastened to inter- 
pose the shield of his eloquence for the protection of 
one who might not speak for himself within those walls ; 
but Franklin was not the quarry at whom Sandwich 
aimed. The shaft had gone home to the breast towards 
which it was really levelled. Dartmouth rose once 
more, and said that he could not press a course which 
evidently was unacceptable to their Lordships, and that 
he himself would give his voice for rejecting the Bill 

The scheme of reconciliation, which promised so fairly, 
had received its death-blow. Franklin, who was deter- 
mined to leave no device untried, offered to pay the East 
India Company for their tea on the security of his 
private fortune, and, (he might have added,) at the risk 
of his popularity among his own countrymen. Mr. 
Barclay on the other hand, in his honest eagerness to 
save the irretrievable, hinted that, if the representa- 
tive of America would show himself sufficiently easy to 

VOL. I. S 


deal with, he might expect not only to be reinstated in 
the Postmastership which he had lost, but to get any 
place under Government that he cared to ask for. 
Franklin, more offended than he chose to show, replied 
that the only place the Ministry would willingly give 
him was a place in a cart to Tyburn ; but that he would 
do his utmost without any other inducement than the 
wish to be serviceable. The proceedings of the confer- 
ence trickled on for a few weeks, and then ended in a 
marsh ; as must always be the case where the agents on 
either of the two sides are not their own masters, but 
have those behind them who intend the negotiations to 
fail. By the middle of March Dr. Fothergill sadly ad- 
mitted that the pretence of an accommodation was 
specious, but altogether hollow ; and that the great folks, 
whom he was in the habit of attending as patients, had 
all along regarded the colonies as nothing better than 
" a larger field on which to fatten a herd of worthless 
parasites." Some days afterwards Franklin sailed for 
Philadelphia, and beguiled a protracted voyage by draw- 
ing up an account of the doleful transactions on which 
he had been recently engaged, and by the more profit- 
able and congenial occupation of testing with his ther- 
mometer the breadth and the direction of the Gulf 

After a short interval he was followed across the 
Atlantic by emissaries the colour of whose coats showed 
that the day of grace was passed. The affairs of 
America were in a tangle which the King, and his Min- 
isters, had neither the will nor the wit to unravel. The 
knot was now for the sword to cut, and they looked 
around them for a man who had the skill of his weapon. 
Clive, and his old chief Lawrence, had died within the 
last few months. Granby had fought in the best British 
fashion at the head of a British contingent as large as a 
formidable army ; and Wolfe had done miracles with 
smaller numbers. But they both had gone, leaving 
nothing except their example. Lord Albemarle too was 
dead, who as General of the land forces in the West 


Indies had shared with the navy in the undoubted hon- 
our, and the vast profit, which accrued from the conquest 
of Havanna. As an officer who had been tried in a 
supreme command there remained Sir Jeffrey Amherst. 
He had won his laurels in America, where he had 
gained the character of a cautious and sound strategist. 
His name stood high among the colonists, who had 
formed half of the very considerable body of troops 
which he was careful to gather around him before he 
opened a campaign ; whom he had treated handsomely ; 
and to whose co-operation he gratefully attributed an 
ample portion of the credit of his victory. 

The judgement of new Englanders on their rulers, 
when newspapers were few and cautious, was to be found 
in their sermons, which never flattered those whom the 
preacher and his hearers did not love. When Montreal 
was taken in the autumn of 1760, the pulpits rang with 
praises of "the intrepid, the serene, the successful 
Amherst." The pastor of Brookfield, who had been a 
chaplain in a Massachusetts regiment, (for American 
military chaplains generally contrived to smell whatever 
powder was being burned,) after hailing the downfall 
of the Canadian Babylon, broke out into praises of 
Amherst, the renowned general, worthy of that most 
honourable of all titles, the Christian hero ; who loved 
his enemies, and while he subdued them, made them 
happy. Amherst had indeed endeavoured to infuse 
some chivalry and humanity into the rude, and often 
horrible, warfare of the backwoods ; and his severities, 
sharp enough on occasion, were necessitated by the 
hideous cruelties which the Indian allies of France 
inflicted upon the farming population of the English 

Amherst had proved himself a stout warrior elsewhere 
than in the field. In the year 1768 he had been in col- 
lision with the King over a matter about which neither 
was in the right ; and the General had come off with 
flying colours and abundance of spoil. A Court favour- 
ite had been nominated to a post which Amherst held, 



but the work of which he did not do. In his wrath he 
threw up all his functions and appointments, and aroused 
such a commotion in the political and military world that 
he had to be coaxed back at any sacrifice. He returned 
to the official ranks stronger, and better endowed with 
public money, than ever ; and neither minister nor mon- 
arch ventured to disturb him again. By January 1775 
George the Third had reconsidered the favourable 
opinion which he had formed of General Gage, and now 
declared him wanting in activity and decision. He pro- 
posed to confer upon Amherst the command of the 
troops in America, together with a commission to use 
his well-known influence and popularity among the col- 
onists for the purpose of inducing them to make their 
peace before recourse was had to arms. Gage mean- 
while, by an arrangement in which the tax-payer was the 
last person thought of, was to continue Governor of 
Massachusetts, and to draw his pay as Commander-in- 
Chief. George the Third undertook in person the task 
of appealing to Amherst's loyalty, which he endeavoured 
further to stimulate by the offer of a peerage. In the 
disagreeable and disastrous war which was now at hand, 
titles were of use rather for the purpose of tempting 
men into active service, than of rewarding them 
when they returned from it. The veteran stated very 
plainly that he could not bring himself to serve against 
the Americans, " to whom he had been so much 
obliged." The King, with sincere regret, informed Dart- 
mouth that Amherst could not be persuaded. It only 
remained, he said, to do the next best ; to leave the 
command with Gage, and send to his assistance the 
ablest generals that could be thought of. 

The choice of those generals was not an act of favour- 
itism. George the Third, as long as he continued to trans- 
act public business, looked closely into all high military 
appointments which involved grave military responsibili- 
ties. His judgement was excellent save when, as in the 
case of the Duke of York, it was misled by consider- 
ations of family interest and of strong affection. Deter- 


mined to have his armies well commanded, he set aside 
his personal inclinations, and overcame his political 
prejudices. In time of peace and war alike, even when 
he was told that the salvation of the country depended 
on it, no importunity from a Cabinet which required 
strengthening could prevail on him to employ a statesman 
whom he regarded as an opponent ; and between one 
war and another he was far from overlooking political 
considerations in his treatment of the army and the navy. 
Whenever a veteran, scarred with wounds and honoured 
throughout the whole service, ventured to give a vote 
displeasing to the King, he was harshly received at 
Court, and ruthlessly deprived of the rewards which his 
valour had earned. But when hostilities broke out, if a 
famous soldier or sailor, who had been wronged and 
slighted, had any fight left in him, George the Third did 
not fail to display what moralists class as the rarest 
form of magnanimity, — that of overlooking the injuries 
which he himself had inflicted. 

Ingratitude during peace, alternating with a tardy 
recognition of merit under the pressure of war, up to 
the very last marked George the Third's dealings with 
great soldiers whose politics displeased him. Sir John 
Moore complained that he was treated as a " bad sub- 
ject " by the King, for whom he had been wounded five 
times, and the discipline and efficiency of whose army 
he had done more than any living man to restore. At 
length, when he was wanted for the chief command in 
Spain, George the Third "very graciously," — and, it 
must be owned, very candidly, — said that a stop should 
be put to persecution, and that Sir John Moore " must 
not be plagued any more." Lord Lynedoch had been 
nothing but a Whig country gentleman till he was five 
and forty ; and a Whig country gentleman he remained 
until he died at ninety-five with a military reputation 
second only to that of Wellington. He was even worse 
used than his friend and patron Sir John Moore ; for 
the King angrily refused to give him army-rank. His 
Majesty quarrelled even with Lord Melville when that 


statesman protested against the treatment to which so 
distinguished an officer was exposed, and was quite pre- 
pared to quarrel over the same matter with Pitt. After 
Corunna, when such a sword as Graham's could not be 
suffered to remain idle, he at length received his due, and 
was sent as Wellington's right-hand man to the Penin- 
sula, where he won Barossa and helped to win Vittoria. 1 

Chief among the three Major-Generals selected to 
serve in America in the spring of 1775 was William 
Howe, brother of the Admiral, and of the Lord Howe 
who fell at Ticonderoga in the year 1758. That noble- 
man, who was an Irish viscount, had been member for 
Nottingham. When the news of his death reached 
England, his mother in pathetic terms urged the people 
of the city, which her son had represented, to replace 
him by his younger brother, who himself was then at 
the front with his regiment. So William Howe was 
nominated and chosen, and had sat for Nottingham 
ever since. At the general election of 1774 he told his 
constituents that the whole British army together would 
not be numerous enough to conquer America, and as- 
sured them that, if he were offered a command against 
the colonists, he would not scruple to refuse it. The 
King, who knew him as a splendid officer, the discipline 
of whose battalion had been a model, and whose gal- 
lantry was a proverb, himself was courageous enough 
to take the risk of a rebuff from his valiant subject. 
Invited to sail for America, Howe inquired whether he 
was to consider the message as a request or an order ; 
and, on being informed that it was an order, he obeyed 
it. He came back before the end of the Parliament, 
with a reputation for every military quality, except that 
of coolness under fire, sadly impaired, — to find at the 
next election that the freemen of Nottingham had good 
memories, and a different view of his personal obliga- 
tions from that which he himself had held. 

The next of the three was John Burgoyne. He had 
gone through the usual experiences of a distinguished 

1 Delavoye's Life of Lord Lynedoch, pp. 269, 262, 249, 250. 


military man who was likewise a politician. He had 
been thanked in his seat in Parliament; he had received 
the Governorship of a fortress in marked and special 
recognition of his brilliant valour ; and he had been the 
subject of a letter in which the King told the Prime 
Minister that, if Colonel Burgoyne had not been pru- 
dent enough to vote for the Royal Marriage Bill, his 
Majesty would certainly have taken that Governorship 
away. Burgoyne's sentiments towards the colonists 
were friendly, but his view of the legal and constitu- 
tional aspect of the controversy was not favourable to 
their claims. He agreed to serve against them without 
compunction, though he missed that sense of exhilara- 
tion which he had hitherto felt whenever he had gone 
to meet the enemy. He confessed his lack of enthu- 
siasm to his Sovereign in a letter not unbecoming a 
soldier, but too long and too laboured, like all which Bur- 
goyne ever wrote even under circumstances calculated 
to prune and chasten the most copious and flowery style. 
The third Major-General was Henry Clinton, who had 
learned his trade under Prince Ferdinand during the 
Seven Years' War, and who now was member for 
Newark, and a supporter of the Ministry. The dash 
and dexterity with which these officers, one and all, 
had seized their opportunities, in America, in Portugal, 
or in Germany, fully justified the King in his hope that 
they would be equal to larger enterprises ; and the pub- 
lic opinion of the army confirmed his choice. The con- 
nection between war and politics, in the aristocratic 
England of four generations ago, was not less close 
than, in the great days of ancient Rome. Then the 
scion of a consular family courted the suffrages of the 
people in order that he might go forth to command 
their legions ; and returned to the senate from Spain, 
or Gaul, or Pontus, to be congratulated if he had tri- 
umphed, or to defend himself in case things had gone 
badly with him in the field. The three Major-Generals 
were all members of Parliament, and all remained mem- 
bers while year after year they were campaigning and 


administrating thousands of miles away from Westmin- 
ster. After the frightful miscarriages which befell them 
personally, or which had taken place under their auspices, 
they all resumed their seats on their accustomed bench 
in the House of Commons as naturally and quietly as if 
they had come back from a week of partridge shooting. 
The expedient adopted was singularly unfortunate. 
If any one of the three had been invested with the 
command in chief, he would, for the sake of his own 
reputation, have applied to the War Office for as many 
regiments as could be spared from home duties ; and, 
being on the spot in London, he would have made his 
representations felt. But no Ministry will press upon 
an absent general larger means and appliances than 
those which he insists on having. Gage was the author 
of the pleasant theory that the military side of the diffi- 
culty would prove to be a very small matter. He now 
had begun to be alarmed, and wrote in vague terms 
about the necessity of being provided with a " very re- 
spectable force " ; but during his recent visit to England, 
speaking as a soldier who knew the colonies and who 
was responsible for keeping them, he had set going a 
notion that the Americans were unwarlike as a com- 
munity, and pusillanimous as individuals. That agree- 
able and convenient idea had been eagerly caught up 
by the noisiest members of the Government, and had 
been employed by them in public as an argument against 
those who condemned their policy as hazardous. They 
had assured Parliament that a course of coercion would 
be effective, safe, and the very reverse of costly ; and 
this they had done on Gage's authority. He had named 
a limited number of additional battalions as the outside 
which he would require in order to complete the busi- 
ness ; and those battalions he should have, and not a 
musket more. The reinforcements which accompanied 
Howe and Burgoyne across the sea brought up the 
garrison at Boston to ten thousand men. It was an 
army powerful enough to inspire all the colonies with 
alarm for their independence, and so burdensome as 


to irritate Massachusetts beyond endurance ; but it was 
utterly inadequate to the task of holding down New 
England, and ludicrously insufficient for the enterprise 
of conquering, and afterwards controlling, America. 
When the war had endured a twelvemonth David 
Hume, — who had lived through an eventful period 
of our history, and had written almost all the rest of it, 
— pronounced that the show of statesmen in power, 
and generals and admirals in command, had up to that 
point been the poorest ever known in the annals of the 
country. Of those generals Gage was the first, and 
perhaps the worst ; and in his combined quality of civil 
administrator, military leader, and above all of adviser 
to the Government in London, he played, for a very 
small man, a material and prominent part in the prepa- 
ration of an immense catastrophe. 

A Governor who was bound by statute to destroy the 
liberties of his province, and ruin the prosperity of its 
capital, had a very narrow margin within which he 
could display himself as a beneficent ruler ; but there 
were two ways of discharging even such a commission. 
Obliged to punish, Gage should have avoided the ap- 
pearance of enjoying the work on which he was em- 
ployed, unless he was prepared to abandon the hope of 
ultimately playing the peacemaker; and that function 
was one among the many which he was called upon to 
fulfil. He had been confidentially instructed by the 
King to " insinuate to New York and such other colo- 
nies as were not guided by the madness of the times," 
proposals which might entice them back to due obedi- 
ence, without putting "the dagger to their throats." 1 
The General had already tried his hand at pacification. 
In October 1774 he wrote to the President of the 
Congress at Philadelphia congratulating him on his en- 
deavours after a cordial reconciliation with the mother- 
country, and promising his own services as a mediator. 2 

1 George the Third to Dartmouth ; Jan. 31, 1775. 

2 Historical Manuscripts Commission. Fourteenth Report, Appendix, 
Part X. 


He might have spared his fine phrases. He was the 
last man whose arbitration or intervention would have 
been accepted by any New Englander endowed with 
a grain of local patriotism ; for by making public refer- 
ence to a hackneyed and offensive taunt he had done 
that which private persons seldom forgive, and com- 
munities never. To be called a saint by the unsaint-like 
is a form of canonisation which nowhere is held to be 
a compliment; and just now there was something too 
much of it in Boston. " The inhabitants of this col- 
ony," wrote an officer, " with the most austere show of 
devotion are void of every principle of religion or com- 
mon honesty, and reckoned the most arrant cheats and 
hypocrites in America." That was the creed of the 
barracks; and Gage paid it the homage of a joke such 
as a parcel of subalterns might have concocted after 
mess, and been ashamed of long before the eldest of 
them had got his company. When Massachusetts, 
threatened in her liberties and her commerce, bowed 
her head, (though not in fear,) and set aside a day for 
prayer and fasting, he inflicted a deliberate and official 
insult on the people whom he governed by issuing a 
proclamation against Hypocrisy. Having thus para- 
lysed, for ever and a day, his power of acting as an in- 
tercessor between the Crown and the colony, he informed 
the Cabinet that, public feeling in America being what 
it was, the penal Acts could not be enforced, and had 
much better be suspended. 

Such a recommendation, from the very man whose 
sanguine assurances had decoyed the Government into 
what he himself now confessed to be a Slough of 
Despond, was described by the King, with pardonable 
impatience, as " the most absurd course that could pos- 
sibly be suggested." But whatever might be the quarter 
whence it emanated, the advice came on the top of tid- 
ings which foretokened that a river of blood would be 
set flowing unless it was acted upon without delay. 
The cannon and stores of the Massachusetts Militia 
were kept at and near Cambridge. Gage now learned 


the ominous circumstance that the several Townships of 

the province had begun quietly to withdraw their share 
of the ammunition. Before sunrise, on the first of Sep- 
tember r 771, he despatched an expedition from Boston 
by road and river, which took | 1 of a couple of 

field pieces and two hundred and fifty k I powder, 

and lodged them securely behind the ramparts of the 
('astle. The performance was .smart, and the most was 

made of it. not so much by the vanity of the author as 
by the apprehensions of tho& inst whom it had 

been projected. The truth was spread all over Middle- 
sex County in a tew hours. It ran tin the N 

England colonics with the speed and the growing di 
mensions of a rumour; and, by the time it got to New 
\ ork and Philadelphi I patriots pr< I to know 

for certain that a British man-of-war had fired on the 

people and had killed six of them at the first shot. In 

some such shape the news reached London; and all 

the friends, and all the foes, of America believed that 

Gage had made good his !>• Old his promises, and 

that the colonists, at the first glint of a bayonet, had 

indeed proved themselves such as Rigby and Sandwich 

had represented them. 
Charles b"ox expressed Ids thoughts to Edmund 

Burke in a letter which has been quoted ere now in 
condemnation ol them both, but which proves nothing 

worse than that the patriotism of the two statesmen 

embraced their fellow-countrymen on both sides of the 
Atlantic. "Though your opinions," Fox wrote, "have 
turned out to be but too true, I am sure you will be tar 
enough from triumphing in your foresight. What a 

melancholy consideration for all thinking men that no 
people, animated by what principle soever, can make a 
successful resistance to military discipline! I do not 
know that I was ever so affected with any public event, 
either in history or life. The introduction of great 
standing armies into Europe has then made all mankind 
irrevocably slaves ! ' The consideration which most 
depressed him was " the sad figure which men made 


against soldiers." Fox's remarks, however, were based 
on a curious and total misapprehension of the facts. As 
fast as the report of the seizure of the powder travelled 
up and down the coast, and among the inland villages, 
the neighbours flocked to each centre of resort, and re- 
mained together throughout the night. Next morning 
many thousand people converged on Cambridge. They 
arrived with staves and without fire-arms ; as citizens, 
and not as militia ; under the command of a Selectman 
of their Township, or a member of their Committee of 
Correspondence. The General had taken a step imply- 
ing war ; and they, as civilians, had come for the grave 
purpose of doing that which meant revolution. Oliver, 
the Lieutenant-Governor of the province, who resided at 
Cambridge, had gone into Boston for the purpose of 
entreating Gage to keep his troops within their barracks. 
The distance to and fro between the two towns was only 
what a sophomore of Harvard College would cover for 
his daily exercise between lecture and chapel ; but 
Oliver who knew his countrymen as one who feared 
them, and Joseph Warren as one who loved and led 
them, were agreed in their opinion that, if a detachment 
marched, it would never find its way back to Boston. 

It was Oliver whom the people sought, and they 
waited with full knowledge of the purpose for which 
they wanted him. They kept their hand in, during his 
absence, by taking pledges of renunciation of office from 
a High Sheriff and two Mandamus Councillors. When 
the Lieutenant-Governor came back, with what he in- 
tended to be the welcome announcement that no armed 
force was on the road from Boston, they requested him 
formally to resign his post ; and after some gasconad- 
ing on his part, which they endured very stolidly, he 
acceded to their desire. Then, standing closely packed 
beneath the rays of the hottest sun which had shone 
during that summer, they began like true Americans to 
pass Resolutions ; acknowledging that Gage, when he 
removed the powder, had not violated the constitution ; 
and voting unanimously their abhorrence of mobs and 


riots, and of the destruction of private property. The 
British General, in anxious self-defence, wrote to the 
Ministry at home that they were no town rabble, but 
the freeholders and farmers of the county. Guided by 
their own good sense, and by the advisers on whom 
they had been accustomed to rely in the ordinary trans- 
action of civil business, they exhibited a firmness com- 
bined with moderation which reassured those who, with 
Charles Fox, expected little from the behaviour of men 
when placed in opposition to soldiers. Soldiers, how- 
ever, within a few days, and not many hours, they 
might have had in abundance ; for the contingents 
from the more distant regions, where the alarm was 
greater, and the exasperation not less, came armed and 
in martial array. Israel Putnam, his deeper feelings 
touched to the quick by the loss of the material for so 
many good cartridges, took upon himself to call out the 
militia of Connecticut, and sent the fiery cross far and 
wide over the continent. Twenty thousand musketeers 
were already on foot, with their faces towards the mouth 
of the Charles River, when they were turned back by 
expresses from Boston bearing the intelligence that, for 
the present, everything was well over. Putnam, proud 
of the result, if only half pleased at the ease with which 
it had been attained, replied by an assurance that, but 
for the counter orders, double the force would have been 
on the move in another twenty-four hours ; and he took 
the opportunity of giving the people of Massachusetts 
an admonition, (the more mundane part of which he 
evidently thought that they needed,) to put their trust 
in God, and mind to keep their powder safe. 1 

The Boston patriots were never again caught nap- 
ping ; and they very soon commenced a system of re- 
prisals, or rather of depredations on their own property, 
which kept both the garrison and the squadron awake. 
One night, within hearing of the nearest man-of-war, if 

1 " We much desire you to keep a strict guard over the remainder of 
your powder; for that must be the great means, under God, of the salva- 
tion of our country." 


only the officer of the watch had known what they were 
about, they withdrew the cannon from a battery at 
Charlestown, which commanded the entrance of the 
inner harbour. Another night they removed four pieces 
which were stored in the neighbourhood of the Com- 
mon. Their audacity and ubiquity were so bewildering 
that Admiral Graves, who now was conducting the 
blockade, could think of no better expedient than that 
of spiking the guns which, from the North point of the 
city, bore upon the roadstead where his ships were ly- 
ing. At other seaports, to which the Royal navy was 
only an occasional visitor, the inhabitants were still 
more free to act ; and in laying hands on what belonged 
to their colony they felt that they had on their side the 
moral law, or at any rate as much of it as sufficed for 
their simple needs. At Portsmouth, in New Hampshire, 
the Sons of Liberty entered the fort in broad daylight, 
to the sound of music ; and, disregarding the remon- 
strances of half a dozen invalids who were quartered in 
the precincts, they carried off sixteen cannon, and a 
hundred barrels of powder with which to load them. 

Outside the glacis of the earthworks, which General 
Gage in hot haste was now constructing across Boston 
Neck, British rule was dead. The condition of New 
England then, and throughout the winter, has no par- 
allel in history. Elsewhere provinces and nations, while 
in open and declared revolt against their former rulers, 
have been under the control of an organised and estab- 
lished government of their own. But by the end of the 
year 1774, throughout the Northern Colonies, the old 
machinery of administration had ceased to work, and it 
had not been replaced by new. Elsewhere, as in pro- 
vincial France after the fall of the Bastile, and in rural 
Ireland more than once in the course of more than one 
century, the written law lost its terrors, and was not 
obeyed. But in New England, though the tribunals 
were void and silent, crime was repressed and private 
rights were secure, because the people were a law to 


themselves. It was as if in a quiet English county 
there were no assizes, no quarter and petty sessions, 
and no official personage above the rank of a parish 
overseer. The Selectmen of the townships were the 
most exalted functionaries who continued to perform 
their duties ; power rested in each locality with the 
Committees of Correspondence ; and the central author- 
ity was the revolutionary Convention, or, (as it called it- 
self,) the Congress, of the colony. 

In Massachusetts that Congress had even less than a 
legal title ; for it sate, deliberated, and even existed in 
defiance of the Constitution. Gage had appointed the 
Assembly to meet at Salem at the commencement of 
October ; but before that date arrived he thought better 
of it, and issued a proclamation declining to be present 
as Governor, and discharging the elected representa- 
tives from the obligation of attendance. The document 
was unusual in form, but perfectly clear in meaning. 
If the members of the Assembly took the course en- 
joined upon them, all hope of continuing the struggle 
was over, and they would have nothing to do except to 
sit by their firesides, with hands folded, till their fate 
overtook them. True indeed it was that the Congress 
of all the provinces was still in session at the capital of 
Pennsylvania ; but the popular leaders of Massachusetts 
would look in vain to that quarter for protection. It 
was a far cry to Philadelphia, and the danger was 
knocking at their own door. The Continental Congress 
was nothing more than an aggregation of delegates, 
provided only with general instructions, of varying ful- 
ness and tenor, from the colonies by which they were 
severally commissioned. Those delegates, in their cor- 
porate capacity, were not inclined to usurp executive 
functions ; and they did not as yet think fit to go be- 
yond the stage of presenting to the world, in a precise 
and forcible shape, the case against the British Govern- 
ment. To make good that case by arms, — and to arms 
it was plain that the decision must speedily come, — it 
was essential that there should be an authority fur* 


nished with powers which, whether constitutional or 
not, were recognised and respected by the people in 
whose name they were exercised ; an authority planted 
on the scene of action, and inspired by that sort of una- 
nimity and energy which actuates men who know that, 
if they do not pursue their forward march together and 
to the end, they have already gone much too far for 
their personal safety. 

The Massachusetts Assembly met. After waiting 
two days for the Governor who never came, the mem- 
bers constituted themselves into a Congress and ad- 
journed from Salem to the more remote and inaccessible 
retreat of Concord. Hebrew or English, the names of 
the two places had little in common with the mood in 
which these men set forth upon their up-country jour- 
ney. 1 True to their national origin, they took some 
pains to define their constitutional position, and to de- 
fend it by adducing precedents and quoting charters. 
But they had attention to spare for more pressing busi- 
ness. They commenced by ordering "that all the 
matters that come before the Congress be kept secret, 
and not be disclosed to any but the members thereof 
until further order of this body." Then, on the twenty- 
fourth of October, they appointed a Committee to con- 
sider the proper time for laying in warlike stores ; and 
on the same day the Committee reported that the 
proper time was now. And therefore without delay 
they voted the purchase of twenty field pieces and four 
mortars ; twenty tons of grape and round-shot ; five 
thousand muskets and bayonets, and seventy-five thou- 
sand flints. They made an agreement to pay no more 
taxes into the royal Treasury. They arranged a system 
of assessment for the purposes of provincial defence, 
and made a first appropriation of ninety thousand dol- 
lars. They then proceeded to elect by ballot three gen- 
erals. They appointed a Committee of Public Safety, 
of which John Hancock was the most notable, and 
Joseph Warren the most active, member. They in- 

1 " Being King of Salem, which is, King of Peace." — Hebrews vii. 2. 


vested that Committee with authority to call out the 
militia, every fourth man of whom was expected to hold 
himself ready to march at a minute's notice; a con- 
dition of service that suggested the name of Minute-men 
by which the earlier soldiers of the Revolution were 
called. And, having done the best they knew, they 
adjourned until the fourth Wednesday in November; by 
which time the Committee of Public Safety, disbursing 
their funds thriftily, had bought, in addition to the pre- 
scribed amount of ordnance, three hundred and fifty 
spades and pickaxes, a thousand wooden mess-bowls, 
and some pease and flour. That was their stock of 
material wherewith to fight the empire which recently, 
with hardly any sense of distress, had maintained a long 
war against France and Spain, and had left them 
humbled and half ruined at the end of it. 

Whether on a large or small scale, the irrevocable 
step was taken. The Massachusetts congressmen were 
fully aware that, with the first dollar which passed into 
the coffers of their own Receiver-General, the game of 
armed resistance had begun, and nothing remained 
except to play it out. Men in power had called them 
rebels rudely and prematurely ; and rebels they now 
were in fierce earnest. In a series of Resolutions every 
one of which the most indulgent Attorney-General, 
without thinking twice about it, would pronounce to be 
flat treason, they gave consistence and direction to the 
seething excitement of the province. They recommended 
to the inhabitants of the several towns and districts that 
any person who supplied intrenching tools, boards for 
gun platforms, or draught oxen and horses, to the troops 
in Boston, ought to be deemed an inveterate enemy to 
America and held in the highest detestation. The 
methods of expressing that detestation they left, as 
they safely might, to local effort and initiative ; for ten 
years of almost unintermittent agitation had perfected 
New Englanders in the science of making themselves 
unpleasant to those whom they regarded as bad friends 
of the cause. They most solemnly exhorted " the 

VOL. i. t 


Militia in general, as well as the detached part of it 
in Minute-men, in obedience to the great law of self- 
preservation," to spare neither trouble nor expense over 
the task of perfecting themselves in their exercises ; 
and in April 1775, taking more upon them as time 
went on and perils thickened, they framed and issued 
a paper of Rules and Regulations for the Massachusetts 
army. They were not afraid to notify that whatever 
officer or soldier shamefully abandoned a post committed 
to his charge, or induced others to do the like when 
under fire, should suffer death immediately. Nor were 
they ashamed to lay down what, according to the tradi- 
tion of their colony, was the right preparation for that 
frame of mind in which homely and half-trained men 
may best meet the stress of danger. All officers and 
soldiers who, not having just impediment, failed dili- 
gently to frequent divine service and to behave decently 
and reverently when present at it, were to be fined for 
the benefit of sick poor comrades ; and the same penalty 
was imposed upon any who were guilty of profane 
cursing and swearing. 

Their statement of the circumstances, on which they 
grounded the necessity for tightening the bonds of 
military discipline, differed widely from the preamble 
of the Mutiny Act which annually was placed on the 
Statute-Book at Westminster. That statement consisted 
in an outspoken vindication of religious and political con- 
victions, ennobled and elevated by the pride of ancestry. 
"Whereas the lust of power," such was the wording of 
the recital, " which of old persecuted and exiled our 
pious and virtuous ancestors from their fair possessions 
in Britain, now pursues with tenfold severity their 
guiltless children ; and being deeply impressed with a 
sense of the almost incredible fatigues and hardships 
our venerable progenitors encountered, who fled from 
oppression for the sake of civil and religious liberty for 
themselves and their offspring ; and having seriously 
considered the duty we owe to God, to the memory of 
such invincible worthies, to the King, to Great Britain, 


our country, ourselves, and our posterity, we do think 
it our indispensable duty to recover, maintain, defend, 
and preserve the free exercise of all those rights and 
liberties for which many of our forefathers bled and 
died. And whereas we are frequently told by the 
tools of the Administration that Great Britain will not 
relax in her measures until we acknowledge her right 
of making laws binding upon us in all cases whatever, 
and that if we persist in our denial of her claim the 
dispute must be decided by arms, in which it is said 
we shall have no chance, being undisciplined, cowards, 
disobedient, impatient of control;" — and so the pas- 
sage continued to run in phrases clearly showing that 
its authors had got hold of some sentences which Eng- 
lish ministers had recently spoken in Parliament, and 
were putting their discovery to a telling, but quite 
legitimate, use. 

Having invested themselves with the responsibility 
of dictating the policy of the colony, and of equipping 
it for self-defence, the representatives of Massachusetts 
remained together either at Cambridge or at Concord, 
(as the chance of interruption by the armed hand of 
authority was less or more present to their minds,) 
through the rigours of a New England winter. In con- 
sideration of the coldness of the season, and that the 
Congress met in a room without a fire, it was resolved 
that the members who inclined thereto might keep on 
their hats. Resembling in that respect, but in few 
others, the British House of Commons, they sate almost 
continuously; although they adjourned for some days 
in order to observe a Thanksgiving appointed in ac- 
knowledgement of the special protection which Heaven 
had extended to the colony of Massachusetts. Deter- 
mined to be thankful, they detected a mark of Divine 
favour in the unanimity with which their province had 
faced the crisis. By their fervent recognition of a 
blessing that, after all, was mainly due to themselves, 
they gave Providence, on the eve of a doubtful war, a 
significant indication of the gratitude which they were 



prepared to feel for such greater mercies as it might 
have in store for them. 

These proceedings, whatever figure they might event- 
ually make in history, were not of a nature to be con- 
templated with equanimity by the British garrison. 
Our troops had hitherto behaved, on the whole, quite as 
well as could be expected from men who were planted 
down in such a place for such a purpose ; but, by the 
time the winter was over, their patience had reached 
its limit. In the first week of March the townspeople 
assembled to hear the annual address in celebration of 
the event which was popularly known as the Boston 
Massacre. The scene has been described by an eye- 
witness, whose point of view is not disguised by his 
narrative. "The military were determined not to suffer 
the least expression that had a tendency to reflect on 
the King, or Royal Family, to pass with impunity. 
In the pulpit were Warren, the orator of the day, 
Hancock, Adams, 1 Church, and others. Some of the 
gentlemen of the Army had placed themselves on the 
top of the pulpit stairs. Officers frequently interrupted 
Warren by laughing loudly at the most ludicrous parts, 
and coughing and hemming at the most seditious, to the 
great discontent of the devoted citizens. The oration 
however was finished, and it was moved by Adams 
that an orator should be named for the ensuing fifth 
of March, to commemorate the bloody and horrid mas- 
sacre perpetrated by a party of soldiers under the com- 
mand of Captain Preston. At this the officers could 

1 This was Samuel Adams. John Adams in a former year declined to 
take the principal part in the ceremony, on the ground that he had acted 
as Captain Preston's advocate. "Though the subject of the Oration," he 
said, " was compatible with the verdict of the Jury, and indeed even with 
the absolute innocence of the soldiers, yet I found the world in general 
were not capable, or not willing, to make the distinction; and therefore I 
should only expose myself to the lash of ignorant and malicious tongues 
on both sides of the question." In 1774 he attended the meeting, and 
heard with admiration John Hancock, who might be trusted not to fall 
below the topmost altitude of the occasion; and he would certainly have 
agreed with every syllable which in 1775 came from the lips of Warren. 


no longer contain themselves, but called ' Fie ! Shame ! ' 
and ' Fie ! Shame ! ' was echoed by all the Navy and 
Military in the place. This caused a violent confusion ; 
and in an instant the windows were thrown open and 
the affrighted Yankees jumped out by fifties." 

The ludicrous parts of Warren's speech were, it may 
be presumed, his references to the Bible ; and the 
promise, (which he kept,) to give his life in case his life 
was wanted. And, as a matter of fact, they were women 
who escaped by the windows. 1 In the spring of 1775 
it took something more than a loud noise to make New 
England men leave a spot where their duty called on 
them to stay. The commotion grew from bad to worse 
until an officer, ''dressed in gold lace regimentals, with 
blue lapels," thought fit to put a gross affront upon the 
Chairman of the meeting. In the course of the next 
fortnight the army broke loose from restraint, or rather 
from self-restraint ; for those who ought to have kept 
others in order were the prime actors in every succes- 
sive manifestation of partisanship. The day of prayer 
and fasting ordained by Congress for the whole colony 
was observed with marked solemnity by the townsmen 
of Boston. On that day the members of a corps, which 
was bent on deserving its title of The King's Own, 
pitched two " marquee tents " within ten yards of the 
church at the West End of the city, and played their 
drums and fifes as long as the service lasted, while their 
Colonel looked approvingly on. Real or reputed patriots 
of all grades in society became the objects of insult and, 
where a plausible excuse could be found, of personal 
violence. A party of officers broke Hancock's windows, 
and hacked the railing of his lawn with their swords. 
A country fellow who, as his friends asserted, had been 
entrapped into buying a gun from a soldier, was tarred 
and feathered in the guardhouse of the regiment and 
paraded about the streets on a truck, escorted by a crowd 
of all ranks from the commanding officer downwards, 
and preceded by a band playing " Yankee Doodle." 

1 American Archives; March 8, 1775. 


Those strains were not agreeable hearing for the 
crowd before whose pinched and anxious faces the pro- 
cession passed. In and about the town there was 
plenty of employment to be had which would have kept 
Boston children plump, and Boston cottages warm and 
garnished ; but for six months past all the mechanics 
had struck work on the Barracks, and the roughest 
labourer refused to turn a sod at the fortifications. 
They hung outside the shops where bricklayers and 
carpenters, fetched from Nova Scotia, or, (a reflection 
more bitter still,) even from New York, were freely 
spending the excellent wages which in such a strait the 
Government was only too glad to pay. They stood in 
line at the doors of the Donation Committee, waiting 
for their allowance of meal, and rice, and salt fish, the 
further supply of which was at that very moment in the 
act of being cut off by the legislation of the British 
Parliament. They took their turn of labour on munici- 
pal industries extemporised under the superintendence 
of the Selectmen, and paid for out of the savings of 
that middle-class which, as the artisans had the good 
sense to foresee and the neighbourly feeling to regret, 
would soon be as poor as themselves. 

It was a cheerless season ; but for those who looked 
in the right quarter there still were smiling visages to 
be seen. " My spirits were very good," a lady said, 
" until one Saturday riding into town I found the Neck 
beset with soldiers ; the cannon hoisted ; and many 
Tories on the Neck, and many more going up to see 
the encampment with the greatest pleasure in their 
countenances, which gave a damp that I had not before 
felt." The inner thoughts of these people may be read 
in a letter from Dr. Samuel Peters, of Hebron in Con- 
necticut. That divine had taken sanctuary in Boston 
after having been rabbled at home by fellow-townsmen 
whom he had sorely provoked, if any provocation could 
excuse outrage. " I am in high spirits," he wrote. 
" Six regiments are now coming from England, and 
sundry men-of-war. So soon as they come, hanging 


work will go on, and destruction will first attend the 
seaport towns. The lintel sprinkled on the side-posts 
will preserve the faithful." Years afterwards, when 
Peters had long been resident in England, his old 
parishioners learned with interest that the style of 
preaching which had given displeasure at Hebron was 
too strong meat even for a congregation of Londoners. 
A brother exile, who heard Peters deliver a sermon in 
an English metropolitan pulpit, said that " it was hard 
to conceive how he got there." 1 

On week-days, when the Episcopal churches were 
closed, the Boston Tories could draw comfort from the 
periodical effusions of a vigorous writer, the style of 
whose prophecies and invectives proved that neither 
side in the great American controversy had a monopoly 
of grandiloquence. According to " Massachusettensis," 
the Boston Committee of Correspondence was the foulest, 
subtlest, and most venomous thing that had ever issued 
from the eggs of the serpent of sedition ; — a knot of 
demagogues, who did for their dupes no more solid 
service than that of inducing them to swallow a chimera 
for breakfast. The point of the observation was all the 
sharper at a time when the families of citizens, who 
followed Hancock and Warren, were in a fair way to 
have very little indeed that was more substantial for 
breakfast, dinner, or supper either. Such was the con- 
dition of mutual charity and good-will to which George 
the Third had reduced the inhabitants of a colony into 
whose local elections, at a date so recent as ten years 
before, the element of political partisanship had not 
as yet entered. 1766 was the first year in which the 
Selectmen of even so considerable a place as Braintree 
were chosen for their politics. The waters of strife had 
then been first stirred by a violent Tory sermon ; and on 
the next Sunday a Whig clergyman replied by preach- 
ing from the text, " Render unto Caesar the things that 
are Caesar's " ; from which things he specially excepted 
the price of stamps bearing Caesar's head. 

1 Sabine's Loyalists ; vol. ii. 


The royalists in Boston, as they watched the reviews 
on the Common, and listened to the professional opin- 
ions which were freely delivered around them, never 
doubted of a rapid and triumphant issue. Reinforce- 
ments continued to arrive from England, and a large 
body of marines was landed from the squadron. By the 
end of the year there were eleven battalions in garri- 
son ; weak, for the most part, in numbers ; but well 
housed, splendidly equipped, and brimming over with 
confidence. The British officers set a high value on the 
fighting quality of their own men, which indeed it was 
not easy to overrate. But the estimation in which they 
held the colonists was not creditable to their habits of 
observation or to their knowledge of military history, 
and said very little indeed for the worth of oral military 
tradition. " As to what you hear of their taking arms, 
it is mere bullying, and will go no further than words. 
Whenever it comes to blows, he that can run fastest 
will think himself best off. Any two regiments here 
ought to be decimated if they did not beat in the field 
the whole force of the Massachusetts province ; for 
though they are numerous, they are but a mere mob 
without order or discipline, and very awkward in han- 
dling their arms." 

That was the view of the regimental officers, who 
were unaware of the fact that colonists, so far from 
being awkward with their weapons, were as a rule 
marksmen before they became soldiers. The familiar 
conversation of the staff, which ought to have been 
better informed, was in the same strain. The Quarter- 
master-General wrote home that Congress had appointed 
three scoundrels to command the militia. It was the 
very reverse of the real case. The first commanders 
of the American forces had indeed, as always happens 
at the commencement of a civil war, the defects of 
leaders chosen on account of exploits performed many 
years before ; but they were of blameless, and even 
rigid, character. In the days of their early renown, 
they had gone forth against the power of France in 


the stern conviction that they themselves were the 
champions of Protestantism. Seth Pomeroy, a good 
man, but no better than his colleagues, had seen the 
hardest service of the three. In September 1755 he was 
colonel of a Massachusetts regiment at the action of 
Lake George, fought by a colonial officer at the head 
of sixteen or seventeen hundred rustics, very few of 
whom had been under fire before, against an army 
largely composed of regulars. The general of the 
French, in the lightness of his heart, encouraged his 
soldiers with the assurance that American Militiamen 
were the worst troops on the face of the earth. After 
the battle, a prisoner with three bullets in him, he pro- 
nounced that in the morning the New Englanders had 
fought like good boys, at noon like men, and in the 
afternoon like devils ; and at all times of the day their 
aim was such that their adversaries " dropped like 
pigeons." Pomeroy, who was employed to bury the 
slain, took measures to preserve the French dead from 
the indignities of the Indian scalping-knife. He had 
lost a brother in the battle. " Dear Sister," he wrote, 
"this brings heavy tidings: but let not your heart sink 
at the news, though it be your loss of a dear husband. 
Monday was a memorable day ; and truly you may say, 
had not the Lord been on our side, we must all have 
been swallowed up." It was not the letter of a scoun- 
drel. 1 But the deeds of the colonists in former battles, 
though well remembered in Paris, were forgotten at 
British mess-tables. In all ranks of our army there 
unhappily prevailed that contempt of the enemy before 
the event which is the only bad omen in war ; — quite 
another sentiment from the invaluable consciousness of 
superiority arising from the experience of victory. 

The latest comers had some excuse for their ignorance 
of the country ; for between them and the outer world 
an impenetrable veil was spread. Inside Boston there 
was little to be learned. Whenever a scarlet coat was 
in the company, Whigs kept their own counsel ; and 

1 Parkman's Montcalm and Wolfe ; vol. i., chapter 9. 


Tories spoke only pleasant things which, human nature 
being what it was, they had honestly taught themselves 
to believe. Beyond the fortifications, over a breadth of 
many score of miles, lay a zone of peril and mystery. 
Officers could not venture to leave the precincts of the 
garrison unless they were accompanied by a strong force 
in military array ; and, in the case even of such a force, 
its reception depended upon the character of its errand. 
When the General was contented to march his people 
out in order to march them back again, — without at- 
tempting to impound military stores, or arrest political 
leaders, — the expedition encountered nothing more for- 
midable than black looks and closed shutters. In Janu- 
ary 1775 a party of infantry proceeded to Marshfield, 
with the object of protecting the formation of a Loyal 
Militia, and took with them fire-arms in greater numbers 
than there were loyalists in the neighbourhood to carry 
them. The troops preserved exact discipline. They 
molested no one, and no one molested them. As long 
as they stayed in the town, (so a Government newspaper 
in New York boasted,) every faithful subject there re- 
siding dared freely to utter his thoughts and drink his 
tea. But when they left Marshfield, and returned to 
Boston, the Loyal Militia disappeared from history, and 
General Gage would have felt more easy if he had been 
certain that their muskets had disappeared with them. 

A month afterwards Colonel Leslie sailed to Marble- 
head, for the purpose of seizing some artillery which the 
provincials had deposited at Salem as a place of com- 
parative security. He landed his detachment success- 
fully on a Sunday morning ; but, when the alarm reached 
the nearest meeting-house, the congregation turned out 
and took up a position upon some water which barred 
his route. They refused to lower the draw-bridge, on the 
plea that there was no public right of way across it ; 
and, when Leslie attempted to lay hands on a couple of 
barges, the owners proceeded to scuttle them. The sol- 
diers drew their bayonets, and inflicted some wounds not 
so wide as the church-door from which the patriots had 


issued, and only just deep enough to allow Salem to claim 
the honour of the first drops of blood which were shed in 
the Revolution. A loyalist clergyman intervened. The 
people agreed to lower the bridge, and Leslie pledged 
his honour not to advance thirty rods beyond it. Brave 
to imprudence when duty as well as danger lay clear 
before him, he was not prepared, without specific orders 
from a high quarter, to light the match which would set 
the thirteen colonies in a blaze. He recalled his men, 
and re-embarked them empty-handed just as the company 
of minute-men from the next township, with plenty more 
of their like to follow, came marching in to the help of 

A countryside, in this state of effervescence, presented 
few attractions even to the most adventurous officers of 
the garrison ; whether they were sportsmen, or students 
of manners, or explorers of the picturesque. But never- 
theless one of their number has left a narrative which 
affords a glimpse of New England in the February of 
1775. Gage despatched a captain and an ensign through 
the counties of Suffolk and Worcester, with a commission 
to sketch the roads, to observe and report upon the de- 
files, and to obtain information about forage and pro- 
visions. They dressed themselves as countrymen, in 
" brown clothes, and reddish handkerchiefs." Their 
disguise was so far artistic that, on their return, the 
General and his staff mistook them for what they pre- 
tended to be ; though during their expedition no one, 
either friend or foe, looked at them twice without detect- 
ing what they were. They stopped at a tavern for their 
dinner, which was brought them by a black woman. " At 
first she was very civil, but afterwards began to eye us 
very attentively. We observed to her that it was a very 
fine country, upon which she answered, ' So it is, and we 
have got brave fellows to defend it.' ' Downstairs she 
told the soldier-servant, who looked still less of a plough- 
man than his masters, that, if his party went any higher 
up, they would meet with very bad usage. Towards the 
close of the day they came to a village where they had 


a more hearty, but a not less alarming, welcome. " We 
stopped at the sign of the Golden Ball, with the inten- 
tion to take a drink, and so proceed. But the landlord 
pleased us so much, as he was not inquisitive, that we 
resolved to lie there that night ; so we ordered some fire 
to be made, and to get us some coffee. He told us we 
might have what we pleased, either Tea or Coffee." Their 
relief on hearing the Shibboleth of loyalty was more 
than balanced by the reflection that this landlord was 
not inquisitive only because he had seen all he wanted 
without needing to ask a single question. 

Another stage of their journey brought them to 
Worcester. " The next day being Sunday we could not 
think of travelling, as it was not the custom of the coun- 
try. Nor dare we stir out until the evening, because no- 
body is allowed to walk the street during divine service 
without being taken up and examined: so that we thought 
it prudent to stay at home, where we wrote and corrected 
our sketches. On our asking what the landlord could 
give us for breakfast, he told us Tea or anything else we 
chose. That was an open confession what he was : but 
for fear he might be imprudent, we did not tell him who 
we were, though we were certain he knew it. At Shrews- 
bury we were overtaken by a horseman who examined 
us very attentively, and especially me, whom he looked 
at from head to foot as if he wanted to know me again, 
and then rode off pretty hard." They got their meal at 
an inn, and had an opportunity of watching from the 
window a company of militia at drill. " The commander 
made a very eloquent speech, recommending patience, 
coolness, and bravery, (which indeed they much wanted ;) 
quoted Caesar, Pompey, and Brigadiers Putnam and Ward ; 
recommended them to wait for the English fire, and told 
them they would always conquer if they did not break ; 
put them in mind of Cape Breton, and observed that the 
Regulars in the last war must have been ruined but for 
them. After a learned and spirited harangue he dis- 
missed the parade, and the whole company drank until 
nine o'clock, and then returned to their homes full of 


pot-valour." The allusion to Cape Breton showed that 
the rank and file of the colonial militia were familiar 
with the true history of that first siege of Louisburg 
which Sandwich had so woefully garbled for the amuse- 
ment of the Peers. 

On their way to Marlborough the two officers were 
accosted by riders, who asked them point-blank whether 
they were in the army, and then passed on towards the 
town. They arrived after nightfall, in what now would 
be called a blizzard ; but the street was alive and buzz- 
ing. They were waylaid and interrogated by a baker 
who, as they afterwards learned, had a deserter from 
their own regiment harboured on his premises. They 
had hardly entered the dwelling of Mr. Barnes, a well- 
to-do loyalist, when the town-doctor, who had not been 
inside their host's door for two years past, invited him- 
self to supper and fell to cross-examining the children 
about their father's guests. They were sent off again 
into the darkness at once, and not a minute too soon ; 
for immediately after their departure the Committee of 
Correspondence invaded the house, searched it from 
garret to cellar, and told the owner that, if they had 
caught his visitors under his roof, they would have 
pulled it down about his ears. 1 It was not until the 
travellers had completed a march of two and thirty 
miles through wind and snow that they reached a 
friendly refuge, and were comforted with a bottle of 
mulled Madeira, and a bed where they could rest in 
safety. Next morning they walked back to Boston, 
having enjoyed the rare privilege of being in contact 
with an Anglo-Saxon population as highly charged with 
electricity as any among the Latin races at the most 
exciting junctures of their history. 

1 American Archives; Feb. 22, 1775. The entertainer of these officers 
paid dearly for his opinions. An important Whig, whose goods were 
within the British lines at Boston, was allowed by way of compensation to 
use the furniture of the Marlborough loyalist for his own so long as the 
siege lasted. Mr. Barnes was subsequently proscribed and banished. He 
died in London. 


At last the thunder-cloud broke, and flash after flash 
lit up the gloom which overhung the land. Gage, 
rather because he was expected to take some forward 
step, than because he saw clearly where to go, con- 
ceived the idea of destroying the stores which had been 
collected at Concord. The force told off for this ser- 
vice, according to a faulty practice of those times, con- 
sisted of detachments from many regiments; and the 
officer in charge of the whole was incompetent. The 
troops started before midnight. At four in the morn- 
ing, just as an April day was breaking, they reached the 
village of Lexington, and found sixty or seventy of the 
local militia waiting for them on the common. Firing 
ensued, and the Americans were dispersed, leaving 
seven of their number dead or dying. It was a chilly 
and a depressing prologue to a mighty drama. The 
British advanced to Concord, where they spoiled some 
flour, knocked the trunnions off three iron guns, burned 
a heap of wooden spoons and trenchers, and cut down 
a Liberty pole. In order to cover these trumpery 
operations a party of a hundred infantry had been 
stationed at a bridge over the neighbouring river, and 
towards ten o'clock they were attacked by about thrice 
as many provincials, who came resolutely on. After 
two or three had fallen on either side, the regulars gave 
way and retreated in confusion upon their main body in 
the centre of the town. 

Pages and pages have been written about the history 
of each ten minutes in that day, and the name of every 
colonist who played a leading part is a household word in 
America. The main outlines of the affair are beyond 
dispute. When Colonel Smith discovered that there 
was nothing for him to do at Concord, and made up his 
mind to return to Boston, he should have returned 
forthwith. As it was, he delayed till noon ; and those 
two hours were his ruin. The provincials who had 
been engaged at the bridge did not push their advan- 
tage. They hesitated to act as if war had been openly 
declared against England ; and they were not in a vin- 


dictive frame of mind, as they had heard nothing 
beyond a vague report of the affair at Lexington. But 
by the time the British commander had completed his 
arrangements for withdrawing from his position the 
whole country was up, in front, around, and behind 
him. Those who came from the direction of the sea 
knew what had taken place that day at early dawn ; 
and, where they had got the story wrong, it was in a 
shape which made them only the more angry. From 
every quarter of the compass over thirty miles square 
the Ezras, and Abners, and Silases were trooping in. 
The rural township of Woburn "turned out extraor- 
dinary," and marched into action a hundred and 
eighty strong. The minute-men of Dedham, encouraged 
by the presence of a company of veterans who had 
fought in the French wars, spent, but did not waste, 
the time that was required to hear a prayer from their 
clergyman as they stood on the green in front of the 
church steps. Then they started on their way, " leav- 
ing the town almost literally without a male inhabitant 
before the age of seventy, and above that of sixteen." 
Carrying guns which had been used in old Indian 
battles, and headed by drums which had beat at Louis- 
burg, they covered the hillsides, and swarmed among 
the enclosures and the coppices, in such numbers that 
it seemed to their adversaries "as if men had dropped 
from the clouds." It was a calamity for the British 
that the first encounter of the war took place under 
circumstances which made their success a military 
impossibility. When a force, no larger than the rear- 
guard of an army, is obliged to retreat, and to continue 
retreating, the extent of the disaster is only a question 
of the amount of ground that has to be traversed, and of 
the activity and audacity which the enemy display. The 
colonists well knew the distance at which their fire was 
effective, and were determined, at any personal risk, to 
get and to remain within that range. The English 
regimental officers, whenever one of them could collect 
a few privates of his own corps, made a good fight dur- 


ing the earlier stage of the retreat. But, before the} 
emerged from the woods which lined most of the six 
miles between Concord and Lexington, ammunition 
began to fail ; the steadier men were largely employed 
in helping the wounded along ; many of the soldiers 
rather ran than marched in order ; and the column 
passed through Lexington a beaten and, unless speedy 
help should come, a doomed force. 

They had still before them twice as much road as 
they had travelled already. But the very worst was 
over ; because a few furlongs beyond the town they 
were met by the reserves from Boston. The support- 
ing body was better composed than their own, for it 
was made up of whole regiments ; and it was much 
better commanded. Lord Percy, owing to stupid blun- 
ders which were no fault of his, should have been at 
Concord by eleven in the morning instead of being near 
Lexington at two in the afternoon ; but, now that he 
was on the ground, he proved that he knew his business. 
He disposed the field pieces which he had brought with 
him in such a manner as to check the provincials, and 
give a welcome respite to Colonel Smith's exhausted 
soldiers. When the homeward march recommenced, 
he fought strongly and skilfully from point to point. 
The hottest work of the whole day was as far along the 
line of retreat as West Cambridge. It was there that 
an example was made of some minute-men who had 
covered sixteen miles in four hours in order to occupy 
a post of vantage, and who were too busy towards their 
front to notice that there was danger behind them in 
the shape of a British flanking party. But the Ameri- 
cans were in great heart, and they were briskly and 
gallantly led. The senior officer present was General 
Heath, a brave and honest man, who had learned war 
from books, but who did well enough on a day when 
the most essential quality in a commander was indiffer- 
ence to bullets ; and Warren had hurried up from 
Boston, eager to show that his oration of the month 
before was not a string of empty words. " They have 


begun it," he said, as he was waiting to cross the Ferry. 
" That either party could do. And we will end it. That 
only one can do." From the moment that he came 
under fire at Lexington he was as conspicuous on the 
one side as Lord Percy on the other : and there was 
not much to choose between the narrowness of their 
escapes, for the New Englander had the hair-pin shot 
out of a curl, and the Northumbrian had a button shot 
off his waistcoat. 

No courage or generalship on the part of the British 
commander could turn a rearward march into a winning 
battle. As the afternoon wore on, his men had ex- 
pended nearly all their cartridges ; and they had noth- 
ing to eat, for the waggons containing their supplies 
had been captured by the exertions of a parish minister. 
" I never broke my fast," so a soldier related, " for forty- 
eight hours, for we carried no provisions. I had my 
hat shot off my head three times. Two balls went 
through my coat, and carried away my bayonet from 
my side." 1 The provincials had surmounted their re- 
spect for the cannon, and kept at closer quarters than 
ever. As the tumult rolled eastwards into the thickly 
inhabited districts near the coast, the militia came up 
in more numerous and stronger companies, fresh and 
with full pouches. When the sun was setting the re- 
tiring troops, half starved and almost mad with thirst, 
came to a halt on the English side of the causeway over 
which the Cambridge highway entered the peninsula of 
Charlestown. They were only just in time. " From 
the best accounts I have been able to collect," Wash- 
ington wrote six weeks later on, " I believe the fact, 
stripped of all colouring, to be plainly this : that if the 
retreat had not been as precipitate as it was, (and God 
knows it could not well have been more so,) the minis- 
terial troops must have surrendered, or been totally cut 
off. For they had not arrived in Charlestown, under 
cover of their ships, half an hour before a powerful 
body of men from Marblehead and Salem was at their 

1 American Archives ; Letter of April 28, 1775. 
vol. 1. u 


heels, and must, if they had happened to be up one 
hour sooner, inevitably have intercepted their retreat to 
Charlestown." That was the conclusion at which Wash- 
ington arrived ; and his view, then or since, has never 
been disputed. 1 

The Americans lost from ninety to a hundred men, 
of whom more than half were killed outright ; and the 
British about three times as many. The strategic re- 
sults of the affair were out of all proportion to the 
numbers engaged in it ; for it settled the character and 
direction of the first campaign in the Revolutionary war. 
For fifteen months to come the British army did not 
again take the open field. Bunker's Hill was but a 
sortie on a large scale, and ranks only as a terrible and 
glorious episode in the operations of a siege which, by 
the time the battle was fought, had already lasted for 
the space of eight weeks. For when Lord Percy 
crossed Charlestown Neck, and General Heath halted 
on Charlestown Common, the invasion of Massachu- 
setts by the English was over, and the blockade of 
Boston by the Americans had begun. In the previous 
December the Secretary at War had confided his antici- 
pations to the Secretary for the Colonies. " I doubt," 
so his letter ran, " whether all the troops in North 
America, though probably enow for a pitched battle 
with the strength of the Province, are enow to subdue 
it : being of great extent, and full of men accustomed to 
fire-arms. It is true they have not been thought brave, 
but enthusiasm gives vigour of mind and body unknown 
before." 2 As Lord Barrington had turned his attention 
to the subject of courage, it was a pity that he could not 
find enough of it to tell his views to the King and the 
Bedfords, instead of writing them to Dartmouth, who 
knew them already. But at sundown on the nineteenth 
of April the event had spoken ; and it mattered little 
now what the English ministers said, or left unsaid, 
among themselves. 

1 Washington to George William Fairfax in England ; May 31, 1775. 

2 The Political Life of Viscount Barrington ; Section viii. 



Massachusetts, from the nature of the case, had 
fought the first engagement single-handed ; but conse- 
quences were sure to ensue which would be too much for 
her unassisted strength. Next morning her Committee 
of Safety reported the condition of affairs to the rest of 
the New England provinces, and urged them to send 
help, and to send it promptly. " We shall be glad," 
they said, " that our brethren who come to our aid may 
be supplied with military stores and provisions, as we 
have none of either, more than is absolutely necessary 
for ourselves." These words were written as soon as it 
was light ; but the people to whom they were addressed 
did not generally wait for a summons. The news of 
Lexington found Israel Putnam, in leather frock and 
apron, busy among his hired men over the labours of 
his farm. He started off on a round of visits to the 
nearest towns of Connecticut ; called out the militia ; and 
ordered them to follow him as fast as they were mustered. 
Then he set out for Cambridge, and arrived there at 
daybreak on the twenty-first of April, having ridden the 
same horse a hundred miles within the eighteen hours. 
By noon on the twentieth the word had got across the 
Merrimac, and the boats on their return journey were 
crowded with New Hampshire minute-men. " At dusk," 
Mr. Bancroft writes, " they reached Haverhill ferry, a 
distance of twenty-seven miles, having run rather than 
marched. They halted at Andover only for refresh- 
ments, and, traversing fifty-five miles in less than twenty 
hours, by sunrise on the twenty-first paraded on Cam- 
bridge Common." 

29I U2 


Rhode Island was somewhat more deliberate and, as 
befitted its size, more heedful of its dignity. On the 
twenty-fifth of April the Assembly of the little com- 
munity voted to raise an army of observation which 
should co-operate with the forces of the neighbouring 
colonies, but with a separate Ordnance department and 
a Commander-in-Chief of its own. If they were bent 
on a policy of isolation and punctiliousness, they had 
chosen the wrong man to have charge of their troops 
in the field. Nathanael Greene was a born soldier, and 
had in him the material for making the sort of general 
under whom other born soldiers desire to fight. For 
years past he would leave his ordinary occupations, if 
for nothing else, in order to be present at any review 
where a score of militia companies were being put 
through their exercises together. He had been seen, in 
a coat and hat of Quaker fashion, watching the regulars 
on the Common at Boston, and buying treatises on the 
Military Art at the booksellers'. When he arrived in 
camp he found his troops lukewarm for the cause, and 
in a state of discipline demanding on his part capabilities 
of a higher order than could be acquired out of a drill 
book. But before many weeks were over he had them 
thoroughly in hand, and he showed himself as eager to 
obey as he was competent to command. When Wash- 
ington was placed by Congress at the head of the Con- 
tinental army, the Assembly of Rhode Island got the 
better of their passion for independent action ; and 
Greene had the satisfaction of placing himself and his 
contingent at the disposal of one who, as the captain of 
a citizen army, would have stood a comparison after the 
manner of Plutarch with any of those heroes of antiq- 
uity whose histories Greene had so long and so lovingly 

The army of New England, — for such it was, and 
such, by whatever title it might be called, it remained 
until the fate of New England was finally and irrev- 
ocably decided, — soon attained a strength of sixteen 
thousand men. Of these Connecticut furnished two 


thousand three hundred, New Hampshire and Rhode 
Island between them about as many, and Massachusetts 
the rest. On the morning after the fight General 
Heath, before he handed over the command, took mea- 
sures to provide a first meal for the assembled multi- 
tude. " All the eatables in the town of Cambridge, 
which could be spared, were collected for breakfast, 
and the college kitchen and utensils procured for cook- 
ing. Some carcasses of beef and pork, prepared for 
the Boston market, were obtained ; and a large quantity 
of ship-bread, said to belong to the British Navy, was 
taken." l Such were the foundations of a commissariat 
system which, as long as Boston was the seat of war, 
kept itself on a level with the reputation of that well- 
fed neighbourhood. The organisation of the army, in 
all other departments, was loose and primitive, but, un- 
til the British garrison should become numerous enough 
again to take the offensive, not inefficient. The Con- 
gress of Massachusetts had nominated General Arte- 
mas Ward to command their forces ; and the superior 
officers from the other colonies copied his orders of the 
day, and yielded him as much obedience as he cared to 
exact, which was very little. He was old and ill ; un- 
able to get on horseback ; and quite willing to leave to 
his energetic and enthusiastic brigadiers the responsi- 
bility of guarding their own front, when once he had 
allotted to them their posts in the line of investment. 

Elementary as were their warlike arrangements, the 
Americans presented a formidable appearance when 
viewed from behind the intrenchments opposite. Many 
of them were dressed in the working clothes which they 
had been wearing when the alarm reached them in their 
fields and villages ; and they were officered by trades- 
men, and mechanics, and graziers who differed little 
from those of their own class in Europe, except that 
they esteemed themselves as good as people who had 
been brought up to do nothing. But that levy of civil- 
ians had already vindicated their claim to be treated in 

1 Heath's Memoirs ; April, 1775. 


as strict conformity to the laws, and even the courtesies, 
of war, as if they had been so many thousand white- 
coated Frenchmen, with a Marshal to command them, 
and with Dukes and Marquises for their colonels. Gage 
soon discovered that, when he wanted anything from 
the colonists, he would have to ask for it civilly. After 
a long negotiation with the authorities of the popular 
party he concluded an agreement under which all inhab- 
itants of Boston who, when the siege commenced, found 
themselves on what they considered the wrong side of 
the wall, might pass from town to country, (or, as the 
case might be, from country to town,) and take their 
chattels with them. Early in June the Americans ob- 
tained a practical recognition of their rights as combat- 
ants in the shape of an exchange of prisoners ; and the 
occasion was lacking in none of the compliments and 
hospitalities with which the chivalry of warfare has, 
time out of mind, invested that ceremony. The event 
was the more grateful to men of honour in both camps 
because it led to the final extinction of a singularly dis- 
creditable calumny. The London Gazette, in an official 
account of the affair of the nineteenth of April, informed 
the world that the provincials had scalped the wounded. 
When the English who had been captured were restored 
to their regiments, they all, officers and men, were warm 
in their expressions of gratitude for the kindness they 
had met with, and the tenderness with which they had 
been nursed ; for very few of them had been taken un- 
hurt. 1 From that day forward nothing more was heard 

1 An antidote to the calumny was not long in reaching England. In 
the June number of the Gentleman's Magazine there appeared a statement 
by a Lieutenant of the King's own regiment. " I was wounded," he says, 
" at the attack of the bridge, and am now treated with the greatest human- 
ity, and taken all possible care of, by the Provincials at Medford." Gage 
was expressly told that his own surgeons might come out and dress the 
wounded ; but there was no need of it, for they were admirably doctored. 
A soldier's wife wrote home on the 2nd of May : " My husband was 
wounded and taken prisoner ; but they use him well, and I am striving to 
get to him, as he is very dangerous. My husband is now lying in one of 
their hospitals, at a place called Cambridge. I hear my husband's leg is 
broke, and my heart is broke." 


of a fable very unlike anything which, before or since, 
has appeared in a military despatch written in our lan- 
guage. The Americans, if they had been on the watch 
for a grievance, might with some plausibility have put 
forward countercharges ; because, when a force loses 
more killed than wounded, there is ground for suppos- 
ing that rough things were done by the enemy. But 
they knew that hand-to-hand fighting is a rude and blind 
business ; they were satisfied by having so quickly con- 
quered the respect of their redoubtable adversary ; and 
their complacency was not diminished by the indigna- 
tion which these mutual amenities excited in the Boston 
Tories, who had devoutly believed in all the vaunts that 
Gage had ever uttered about his fixed determination 
never to treat with rebels. 

The hour was at hand when the title of the Ameri- 
cans to rank as belligerents was to be severely tested. 
In the early summer reinforcements from home raised 
the British garrison to seventeen battalions of infantry, 
and five companies of artillery. Gage had now at his 
disposition a force half as large again as the army 
which triumphed at Culloden, and four times more nu- 
merous than the regular troops who crushed the rising 
of our Western counties at Sedgemoor. On the twenty- 
fifth of May the Cerberus arrived with the Major-Gen- 
erals on board. They disembarked under a fire of 
epigrams which their number, taken in conjunction with 
the name of the three-headed monster after whom their 
ship was called, suggested to those Boston wits who had 
read Virgil, or at any rate a classical dictionary. It was 
an evil day for Gage when Burgoyne landed ; for the 
faults and the merits of that officer combined to make 
him as dangerous a subordinate as ever a commander 
was afflicted with. Inventive and enterprising, and un- 
deniably gallant, he had obtained just enough military 
celebrity to turn his head, and to tempt him, through 
discontent, into disloyalty towards his chief. Before 
leaving London he had been admitted, among other 
guests, to the weekly dinner of the Cabinet. He was 


impressed by the absurdity of pretending to do the 
secret business of the State in " so numerous and motley 
a company ; " but he had made excellent use of his op- 
portunities for his own personal advantage. He had 
succeeded in establishing relations with great men, and 
men on the way to greatness, no one of whom was fully 
aware how intimate Burgoyne was with the others. As 
soon as he was ashore at Boston he began a correspon- 
dence with Lord Rochford, who was a Secretary of 
State, and Lord George Germaine, who seemed likely 
to become one ; with Lord Dartmouth, with the Military 
Secretary of the Horseguards, and, above all, with the 
Prime Minister. Burgoyne's voluminous, but always 
vivid and interesting, letters, the burden of which was 
a searching exposure of Gage's mistakes, ruined that 
officer in the judgement of his employers, and remain on 
record to destroy his chance of passing in the eyes of 
posterity as an unfortunate, rather than an incapable, 
commander. But, however full Burgoyne's sheet might 
be with comments upon his chief's blundering strategy, 
there always was a corner kept for the demands of self- 
interest. When addressing a Minister, or any one who 
had the ear of a Minister, the persuasive Major-General 
never failed to insist on the paltry nature of his own 
present functions as compared with his abilities and 
antecedents ; and implored that he might be recalled to 
England for the purpose of giving the Cabinet, by 
word of mouth, information and advice which he could 
not venture to set down in writing. 

That which was reported about Gage to Downing 
Street was a grave matter for him ; but his fame suf- 
fered still more from the compositions which his elo- 
quent subordinate prepared for publication, at his 
request, and in his name. Proud of his soldiership, Bur- 
goyne rated himself higher yet in his character as an 
author. His most ambitious literary efforts belonged to 
the leisure of a later period in his life, when there was 
no further demand for the services of his unlucky sword. 
Up to 1775 he had achieved nothing more durable than 


prologues and epilogues ; and, as his highest flight, he 
had prepared an operatic version of " As You Like 
It." One quatrain will suffice as a specimen of the 

" Who was the man that struck the deer ? 
The badge of triumph let him wear. 
Round the haunch of the noble prey 
Hail him, hail him, lord of the day ! " 

But Burgoyne was as much in love with his pen as if 
he had written the original comedy ; and that pen he 
now placed at the disposal of his superior in command. 
His style, excellent in a letter, became artificial in a 
State-paper, and had in it a touch of rhodomontade 
fatally unsuited to documents which dealt with burning 
questions at a time of almost unexampled seriousness. 
On the twelfth of June General Gage issued a procla- 
mation denouncing the rebels who, M with a preposter- 
ous parade of military arrangement, affected to hold the 
royal army besieged ; " assuring "the infatuated multi- 
tude " that he did not bear the sword in vain ; declaring 
martial law ; offering pardon to such as would lay down 
their arms and " stand distinct and separate from the 
parricides of the constitution;" but excepting from that 
pardon, under any condition whatsoever, Samuel Adams 
and John Hancock. No manifesto was ever worse 
adapted to the taste of its intended readers, except per- 
haps the celebrated address to the French nation, in the 
year 1792, which earned for the Duke of Brunswick a 
place in literature as the most unsuccessful of royal 
authors. The minute and affectionate care, which evi- 
dently had been bestowed on the task of polishing each 
of the bloodthirsty sentences in Gage's proclamation, 
suggested to the patriots that it had been prompted by 
the devil ; but as a matter of fact it was drafted by Bur- 
goyne, who, except on paper, was as humane a man as 
lived. And so it came to pass that Gage, after all the 
disasters which overtook him on account of his being 
exceedingly dull, contrived to saddle himself with the 


additional curse of a reputation for pretentious and mis- 
placed cleverness. 

Burgoyne was on surer ground when he was expos- 
ing to Cabinet Ministers the defects and dangers of the 
military situation. He and his two colleagues were 
filled with surprise and shame by the state of matters 
which they found at Boston. These paladins of the 
great war, accustomed to drive the enemy whenever 
and wherever they met him, were greeted by the news 
that a British force, as large as any which had ever 
taken the field in America, was blockaded in its quarters 
by an army of whose existence they had never even 
heard until that moment. The town on the land side, 
Burgoyne wrote, was invested by a rabble in arms 
flushed with success and insolence, who had advanced 
their sentries within pistol shot of the royal outposts. 
The servants of the Crown, and their well-wishers 
among the civil population, were lost in a stupefaction 
of anger, bewilderment, and despondency. All passes 
which led to the mainland were closely beleaguered ; 
and, even if the hostile lines were forced, the British 
were not in a condition to make a forward movement. 
Bread waggons, hospital carriages, sumpter-horses, and 
artillery horses were wanting. The magazines had been 
left unfurnished ; the military chest was empty ; and 
there was no money in the town. Our troops were un- 
paid, and our officers could not get their bills cashed at 
any sacrifice. Even the five hundred pounds apiece, 
which his Majesty promised that his Major-Generals 
should receive on their arrival, were not forthcoming ; 
and all this at a time when, (so Burgoyne declared 
with a pathos which soared above statistics,) a pound of 
fresh mutton could only be bought for its weight in 
gold. For the apathy and dejection which prevailed 
among military people had gained the sister service. 
The Royal ships lay idle and helpless, expecting from 
day to day to be cannonaded at their moorings. The 
crews of the rebel whale-boats had cleared off the sheep 


and cattle from the neighbouring islands ; had burned 
a British schooner under the very eyes of the Admiral ; 
and had carried away the cannons to arm their own bat- 
teries. When those batteries opened fire, there would 
be witnessed the most singular and shameful event in 
the history of the world, — a paltry skirmish, (for Lex- 
ington was nothing more,) " inducing results as rapid 
and decisive as the battle of Pharsalia ; and the colours 
of the fleet and army of Great Britain, without a conflict, 
kicked out of America." 

The style of writing was after the model of Junius, 
rather than of Julius Caesar. But the sentiments were 
those of a soldier ; and Burgoyne took no pains to 
hide them in any company. He exclaimed to the first 
colonist whom he met, and in the course of a talk which 
served the purpose of the modern interview of dis- 
embarkation: "Let us get in, and we will soon find 
elbow-room." The saying caught the popular ear, and 
the time was not far distant when its author learned to 
his cost that it is more easy to coin a phrase than to 
recall it from circulation. The lie of the country was 
such that Burgoyne's expression exactly represented 
the necessities of the hour. To North and South of the 
peninsula of Boston, separated from the town in each 
case by some five hundred yards of salt water, two 
headlands, of the same conformation and size as the 
peninsula itself, ran out into the bay. 1 If Gage made 
play with his elbows, he would sweep the heights of 
Dorchester on his left hand, and the heights above 
Charlestown on his right. His subordinates insisted 
that he should exert himself. As soon as there was a 
prospect of fighting under leaders whom it was an 
honour to follow, the army recovered its spirits, and, 
of all the disagreeable sensations which had affected it, 
retained none except resentment. " I wish the Ameri- 

1 All localities mentioned in the text may be identified in the map of 
" Boston and its Environs " at the end of this volume, reproduced from 
the Atlas accompanying Marshall's Life of Washington, published at 
Philadelphia in 1807. The map has been partially coloured, and a certain 
number of additional places marked, for purposes of elucidation. 


cans may be brought to a sense of their duty. One 
good drubbing, which I long to give them, might have 
a good effect towards it." That was how Captain Har- 
ris of the Fifth Foot, a young man of spirit, with a great 
future before him, (for he died Lord Harris of Seringa- 
patam,) wrote home on the twelfth of June ; and by 
every packet which sailed for England such letters were 
being posted by the score. 1 

Gage and his advisers, with sound judgement, deter- 
mined to begin by occupying the heights of Dorchester. 
The promontory which lay to the South was of the two 
the more accessible to the Americans ; and, if they 
succeeded in establishing themselves there, it would be 
a more tenable post and a more formidable menace to 
the garrison of Boston. But the earlier operations in 
a civil war are dictated rather by human nature than 
by strategic principles ; and the clash of battle, when 
it arose, broke out in an unexpected quarter. The 
moral forces at work in the Colonial, and in the British, 
camps were not dissimilar. General Ward, like Gen- 
eral Gage, and with much better reason, would have 
preferred to strengthen his defences and stay quiet 
behind them ; but he too had brigadiers who were bent 
upon action. An American council of war debated the 
proposal to seize and fortify the heights of Charlestown. 
Ward was against the plan, and Warren also ; for it 

1 The letters which Captain Harris sent home from Boston agreeably 
portray the feelings of the best among our regimental officers. He 
joined the garrison in August 1774, and arrived at his destination ready 
to be pleased, and very willing to make himself pleasant to the civilians 
among whom he was quartered. " The Harbour," he wrote, " and the 
view of Boston is the most charming thing I ever saw: far superior to 
the Bay of Naples, and having the advantage of being wooded by nature 
as picturesquely as if art had superintended her operation." The herbage 
on the Common was richer than he had ever seen elsewhere ; and he was 
at much pains to protect the cows of the citizens, as they ate the sacred 
grass, from any interference on the part of British sentries. "Though 
I confess," said the keen young soldier, " that I should like to try what 
stuff I am made of, yet I would rather the trial should be with others 
than these poor fellows of kindred blood." But he could not avoid his 
fate; and in the retreat from Lexington, where he commanded the rear* 
guard, he lost his Lieutenant, and half his company. 


was a question of policy, and not of valour ; but Putnam 
took the other side, on grounds which were character- 
istic of the man. The operation in his view was so 
critical, and the position so exposed, that the British 
would be irresistibly tempted to attack under circum- 
stances which might be trusted to bring out the strong- 
est points of the colonists. " The Americans," he said, 
" are not afraid of their heads, though very much afraid 
of their legs. If you cover these, they will fight for 
ever." Even such a qualified species of courage was 
a great deal to demand from men who had never been 
drilled to hold up their heads, and whose legs had 
hitherto been chiefly employed in walking between the 
plough handles ; but Putnam, if any one, knew both the 
best and the worst which could be expected from his 
countrymen at the stage of military discipline to which 
they had then attained. His opinion carried weight 
in a quarter where, at that period of the Revolution, 
the ultimate decision lay. On the fifteenth of June the 
Committee of Safety of the Massachusetts Congress 
unanimously resolved to advise the Council of War that 
possession of the hill called Bunker's Hill in Charlestown 
should be securely kept, and defended by sufficient 

Next evening twelve hundred New Englanders were 
paraded on Cambridge Common, and listened to the 
President of Harvard College while he invoked the 
divine blessing on an enterprise the nature of which was 
still a secret for almost all his hearers. They were 
under the command of Colonel Prescott, who was old 
enough to have served at Cape Breton, where he had 
exhibited qualities which procured him the offer from 
the British military authorities of a commission in the 
regular army. When night fell the expedition started ; 
the Colonel in front, and carts filled with intrenching 
tools following in the rear. The men had their weapons, 
their blankets, and one day's rations ; loose powder in 
their horns, but not very much of it ; and in their 
pouches bullets which they had cast themselves. Even 


so they had plenty to carry. Their equipment was 
described by a lieutenant of the Royal Marines ; a 
corps which, after its usual custom, contrived next day 
to get a very near view of the enemy. Both officers 
and soldiers, this gentleman wrote, wore their own 
clothes ; nor did lie see any colours to their regiments. 
Their firelocks seemed unwieldy, and some were of 
quite extraordinary length ; but the men, (he remarked,) 
were mostly robust and larger than the English. It 
must be remembered, too, that the clumsy gun was an 
old friend, with whose good and bad qualities they were 
intimately acquainted ; and which they preferred even 
to an elegant Tower musket, weighing only fifteen 
pounds without the bayonet, so long as there was some- 
thing in front of them on which to rest their barrel. 1 

Prescott made his way by the aid of dark lanterns 
over Bunker's Hill, which at the highest point rose but a 
hundred and ten feet above the level of the sea. He 
halted his men, further to the eastward, on a still lower 
spur of the same upland. They looked straight down 
on the lights of Charlestown ; and they stood within 
twelve hundred yards of the Boston batteries, and nearer 
yet to the men-of-war which lay in the channel. Lines 
of fortification were marked out ; arms were stacked ; 
and spades and pickaxes distributed. Farmers and 
farm-hands wanted no teaching for that part of the busi- 
ness ; and every one except the sentries, officers and 
soldiers alike, fell to work in silence, and with extraordi- 
nary speed. When day broke, — and, on the seventeenth 
of June, it was not long in appearing, — the morning 
watch on the British vessels discovered an intrenchment 
six feet high where overnight there had been a smooth 
pasture. The ships, and the guns ashore, concentrated 

1 Lieutenant Clarke relates that some of the guns, which his men picked 
up in the captured redoubt, were near seven feet long ; but the statement, 
though proceeding from a credible eye-witness, appeared to require con- 
firmation before it could be inserted in the narrative. That confirmation 
is given by an American colonel, who wrote : "The arms are most of them 
good fowling-pieces, but unfit for war, some of them being no less than 
seven feet." Robert Livingston to Lord Stirling ; June II, 1776. 


their fire upon the little redoubt, which measured fifty 
yards on its longest face. The noise was terrific, for the 
part of the squadron which was engaged carried eighty 
cannon on a broadside ; and, as the forenoon went on, 
the flood-tide brought with it several floating batteries 
which took up their position within easy range. The 
Americans, who had not the means of replying, liked 
it little at first ; but Prescott, on the pretence that he 
wanted a better point of view from which to superintend 
his people as they worked inside the wall, sauntered 
round the top of the parapet, giving directions where to 
place the gun-platforms, and bantering those who were 
not as handy with the saw as they had been with the 
shovel. A Royal general noticed him in his blue 
coat and three-cornered hat, and asked whether he 
would fight. The person to whom, as it happened, the 
Englishman applied for his information was Prescott's 
own brother-in-law ; who asseverated with a great oath 
that on that point he would answer in the affirmative for 
his kinsman. More quietly worded, but sincere and 
eager, testimony with regard to the part played by 
Prescott was given in much later years by David How of 
Haverhill in Massachusetts. How had been currying 
leather in a small way before he joined the American 
army in 1775, and was still currying leather on a large 
scale in 1842. A few months before his death the old 
man was asked about his experiences inside the redoubt. 
" I tell ye," he cried, " that if it had not been for Colonel 
Prescott there would have been no fight. He was all 
night, and all the morning, talking to the soldiers, and 
moving about with his sword among them in such a way 
that they all felt like fight." 

If the cannonade had driven the Americans from their 
works, there would have been bitter disappointment in 
the British garrison. Something was said at head- 
quarters about landing a force on Charlestown Neck, 
and so taking the colonists in the rear. Something was 
said about starving them into surrender by stationing 
gunboats on either flank of the isthmus, which was only 


a hundred yards in breadth, and had no protection 
against a cross-fire. One or the other of the two courses 
would have been tactically correct, and our officers owed 
it to their military conscience to make a pretence of dis- 
cussing them ; but neither the generals nor the army 
were in a mood to wait. To win without fighting had 
no attraction for men who on the last occasion had 
fought without winning. Our troops were eager to 
try conclusions at the earliest moment, and under diffi- 
culties which would enable them to show their mettle. 
As soon as it was known that there were fortifications 
to attack, the resolution to approach them in front was 
automatic, and all but unanimous. By one o'clock of 
the day four entire regiments, and twenty companies of 
grenadiers and light infantry, had landed on the extreme 
East of the peninsula, to the North of Charlestown. 
Howe, who was in command, after carefully inspecting 
the ground in face of him, sent back the barges for rein- 
forcements, and ordered his men to take their dinner. 
In a couple of hours the flotilla returned with two more 
battalions. The assaulting force was now between two 
thousand, and twenty-five hundred, strong ; and soldiers 
more full of heart, and in more gallant trim, had never 
stepped over the gunwale of a boat on to soil which they 
meant to make their own. 

It was high time for the Americans also to demand 
help from their main army. Some of the officers in the 
redoubt thought it their duty to go even further, and 
urged Prescott to claim that those companies which had 
borne the labour of the night, and the strain of the 
bombardment, should be relieved by other troops. Not 
a few of the minute-men, as inexperienced soldiers will, 
had left their bread and meat behind them ; there was 
no water to be had ; and the heat was stifling. But 
Prescott would have none of it. The men might be 
hungry and thirsty, and had already done a double turn 
of duty ; but they had become accustomed to cannon- 
balls ; and, when it came to bullets, they might be 
trusted better than any newcomers to defend the fortifi- 


cations which their own hands had raised. Those 
fortifications consisted of the redoubt, and a breastwork 
extending a hundred yards towards the left of the posi- 
tion. From the end of the breastwork to the North shore 
of the peninsula the country was open. On that side 
the British overlapped and threatened Prescott's flank ; 
and he accordingly told off a detachment of Connecticut 
militia to occupy the vacant interval. They were soon 
joined there by a fine New Hampshire regiment, which 
came fresh from camp ; and the combined force stationed 
themselves along the foot of Bunker's Hill, well to the 
rear of the redoubt. They were covered by a low fence, 
stone below and rails above, the interstices of which 
they had stuffed with piles of hay. A poor defence 
against musketry, and none whatever against cannon, at 
all events it marked the line which they meant to hold. 
It was a bulwark much of the same character as that 
behind which their descendants stood on the Cemetery 
hill at Gettysburg. 

When the fight began, the colonists mustered fifteen 
hundred men ; quite as many, if all present stood their 
ground, as could be effectively employed along a front 
of less than seven hundred paces. They had six can- 
non ; and generals in plenty, though none to spare ; for 
it was a day on which good example could not be too 
abundant. The military etiquette prevailing in the 
American lines was not yet rigid enough to prohibit an 
officer of rank from taking part in an operation outside 
the precincts of his own commando Seth Pomeroy had 
borrowed a mount from the Commander-in-Chief ; but 
the cannon-fire which raked Charlestown Neck was so 
hot that he did not conceive himself justified in risking 
an animal not his own property. His person, however, 
belonged to himself ; so he walked across the isthmus, 
and up to the rail-fence, where he was received with 
cheers, and provided with a musket. Putnam, who had 
horses of his own and never spared them, was seen dur- 
ing the course of the afternoon in every corner of the 
field. Wherever he might be, he took his share of the 

VOL. 1. x 


danger, and a great deal more than his share of the re- 
sponsibility which was going a begging. Warren, the 
evening before, had been in the Chair of the Massa- 
chusetts Congress ; and he now came on to the ground 
with a bad headache, which was soon to be cured. Like 
everybody else on that day, he fell in with Putnam, and 
asked him where would be the crisis of the battle. Put- 
nam directed him to the redoubt ; and, when he showed 
himself within the enclosure, Prescott greeted him 
warmly and offered him the command. But Warren 
refused to take over a trust which had hitherto been 
so admirably discharged, and assured those who were 
within hearing of him that he was only one of two 
thousand who were marching to their assistance. And 
thereupon, as a first instalment of the promised rein- 
forcements, he placed himself, gun in hand, among the 
marksmen who lined the wall. 

He was just in time. At three o'clock the second 
British detachment landed, and Howe at once proceeded 
to the business of the afternoon. He briefly and frankly 
explained to his men the situation of the army, which 
nothing would save except a victory. " I shall not," he 
told them, " desire one of you to go a step further than 
where I go myself : " and, whatever the case might 
have been where it was a promise to his constituents, 
when Howe spoke as a soldier he acted up to what he 
said. He then marched straight at the rail-fence, with 
the grenadiers and the light infantry behind him. The 
Marines and the Forty-seventh Regiment advanced upon 
the redoubt ; while the breastwork was assaulted by 
the Forty-third and the Fifty-second, numbers which 
are indissolubly linked in the memory of those who 
have studied on Napier's pages the story of the Light 
Division in the Peninsular War. Such military rhetoric 
as was employed by the American leaders was of the most 
practical character : and up to the very last moment they 
were exhorting their people to aim low, to fire at the 
handsome coats, and, above all, to wait so long that there 
could be no mistake between one uniform and another. 


The American artillery was badly served, for reasons 
which it subsequently required a couple of court-mar- 
tials to explain for the benefit of those who exacted too 
much from the scientific department of a raw army. 
On the other hand, the round-shot which had been 
brought across the bay did not fit the British field 
pieces ; and the officer in charge pronounced the ground 
in his front so soft that they could not be driven up 
within range for grape. The Royal troops moved for- 
ward steadily, but all too slowly. They were burdened 
with full knapsacks ; the hay rose above their knees ; 
they had fence after fence to cross ; and they were 
allowed to open fire too soon. The colonists would 
have followed the example ; but their commanders were 
on the alert. Putnam, at the rail-fence, threatened to 
cut down the next man who let his gun off without 
orders ; and Prescott's officers ran round the top of the 
parapet, and kicked up the muzzles of the firelocks. 
When the discharge came at last, the execution done 
was very great. The British volleys, delivered with 
the regularity of a full-dress review, were almost disre- 
garded by the colonists, who were loading under cover, 
talking among themselves, and arranging to shoot, two 
or three together, at the same officer. " Before the in- 
trenchments were forced," wrote Lieutenant Clarke of 
the Marines, " a man whom the Americans called a 
Marksman, or Rifleman, was seen standing upon some- 
thing near three feet higher than the rest of the troops, 
as their hats were not visible. This man had no sooner 
discharged one musket than another was handed to him, 
and continued firing in that manner for ten or twelve 
minutes. In that small space of time it is supposed that 
he could not kill or wound less than twenty officers. But 
he soon paid his tribute ; for, upon being noticed he was 
killed by the Grenadiers of the Royal Welsh Fuzileers." 
The attack fared badly in every quarter of the field. 
" Our light infantry," another army letter relates, "were 
served up in companies against the grass fence. Most 
of our grenadiers and light infantry, the moment of pre- 



senting themselves, lost three-fourths, and many nine- 
tenths, of their men. Some had only eight and nine 
men a company left; some only three, four, and 
five." l Ten minutes, or it might be fifteen, of such work, 
(for no one present had the curiosity to take the time,) 
showed the British leaders that the position could not be 
carried then ; and the less resolute among them already 
doubted whether it could be carried at all. The assault- 
ing force retreated; and Howe, with the composure of a 
man who had more than once been in affairs which began 
ill and ended to his satisfaction, rallied and re-formed 
his troops as soon as he had withdrawn them out of 

The British advanced a second time in the same style 
as before. The men were still overloaded. Again they 
came on firing. Their opponents noticed, and admired, 
the deliberation with which they stepped over the bodies 
of their fallen comrades ; for the acclivity leading up 
to the American lines, (as was said of the face of the 
hill between Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte by one 
who had been at Badajos, 2 ) already resembled rather a 
breach after an assault than a portion of a field of battle. 
The colonists this time did not pull a trigger until the 
British van was within forty yards, and then aimed at 
the waist-belts. A continuous stream of flashes poured 
forth along the whole extent of the intrenchments, from 
the instant that the word was given to fire, until the 
ground in front was cleared of all except the dead and 
wounded. The British officers, utterly regardless of 
everything but their duty, urged the men forward with 
voice and sword-hilt ; and, where no officers were left, 
the oldest privates placed themselves in charge of the 
half-sections which represented what once had been 
companies. Howe, on the morning of Quebec, had 
stood with twenty-four others in a forlorn hope on the 
heights of Abraham ; but he was more alone now. He 

1 These companies are stated to have averaged thirty-nine men at the 
commencement of the battle. Clarke's Narrative, p. 15. 

2 Diary of a Cavalry Officer (Lieutenant Colonel Tomkinson) ; p. 317. 


had twelve officers, naval and military, in his personal 
staff at Bunker's Hill ; and, soon or late, they were all 
shot down. Outside the works no one could live ; and 
it was evident, almost from the first, that, on this occasion 
likewise, no one could penetrate within them. The 
British regiments once more fell back to the landing- 
place : a repulsed and disordered, but, (to their honour 
be it spoken,) not a disorganised or a routed army. 

For they had that in them which raised them to the 
level of a feat of arms to which it is not easy, and per- 
haps not even possible, to recall a parallel. Awful as 
was the slaughter of Albuera, the contest was eventually 
decided by a body, however scanty, of fresh troops. 
The cavalry which pierced the French centre at Blen- 
heim, though it had been hotly engaged, for the most 
part had not been worsted. But at Bunker's Hill every 
corps had been broken ; every corps had been decimated 
several times over ; and yet the same battalions, or what 
was left of them, a third time mounted that fatal slope 
with the intention of staying on the summit. 1 Howe 
had learned his lesson, and perceived that he was deal- 
ing with adversaries whom it required something besides 
the manoeuvres of the parade ground to conquer. And 
to conquer, then and there, he was steadfastly resolved, 
in spite of the opposition which respectfully indeed, 
but quite openly, made itself heard around him. He 
ordered the men to unbuckle and lay down their knap- 
sacks, to press forward without shooting, and to rely 
on the bayonet alone until they were on the inner side 
of the wall. He confined himself to a mere demon- 
stration against the retired angle within which the rail- 
fence was situated, and instructed all his columns to 
converge upon the breastwork and the redoubt. He 
insisted that the artillery, swamp or no swamp, should 
be planted where they could sweep the fortification with 
an enfilading fire. Howe was loyally obeyed, and ably 

1 Howe was reinforced by four hundred additional Marines in the 
course of the engagement; but, so far as is known, every regiment which 
took part in the earlier attacks went forward the third time also. 


seconded. The officers who had remonstrated with him 
for proposing to send the troops to what they described 
as downright butchery, when they were informed of his 
decision returned quietly to their posts, and showed by 
their behaviour that, in protesting against any further 
bloodshed, they had been speaking for the sake of their 
soldiers, and not of themselves. General Clinton had 
assumed the command of the left wing, and was pre- 
pared to lead it into action. From across the water he 
had perceived two regiments standing about in confusion 
on the beach. He threw himself into a boat, revived 
their courage, re-arranged their ranks, and placed him- 
self far enough in their front for every one to see how 
an old aide-de-camp of the fighting Prince of Brunswick 
stepped up a glacis. 

It detracted nothing from the merit of the British 
that their undertaking was less desperate than they 
were aware of. They advanced for the third time in 
the stern belief that the position was held by a force 
superior in numbers to their own, and amply provided 
with everything which the defence required. But the 
case was otherwise. Behind the intrenchments few 
had bayonets ; and, what was a much more serious mat- 
ter, the powder horns were empty. On the very eve of 
the last assault, by opening some cannon cartridges, 
Prescott contrived to supply his garrison with a couple 
of rounds a man, and bade them not to waste a kernel 
of it. Now was the moment for the arrival of those 
thousands whom Warren had announced to be on the 
way ; but they were on the way still, and not very many 
ever reached their destination. The result was largely 
due to the absence of a military system, which it re- 
mained for a younger brain than General Ward's to cre- 
ate, and a stronger hand than his to impose upon that 
civilian army. The Commander-in-Chief never left his 
house ; he had not the staff officers to convey his orcLers ; 
and those orders were given too late. 1 Plenty of troops 

1 In Colonel Stark's regiment, when the word came to turn out from 
their quarters, " each man received a gill cup full of powder, fifteen balls, 


marched, but they did not start betimes. When they 
reached the skirts of the battle they found no one with 
full powers to tell them where to go, and to see that they 
got there ; — a circumstance the more serious because 
the conditions of the conflict were such that undisputed 
authority, and responsible supervision, were as much 
needed in the rear of the army as on the fighting front. 
Burgoyne had watched the track of Clinton's boat 
with much the same feelings as those of Fitz Eustace 
when he saw Blount plunge into the melee at Flodden. 
" For my part," (thus he grumbled to one of his eminent 
correspondents,) " the inferiority of my station left me an 
almost useless spectator, for my whole business lay in 
presiding during part of the action over a cannonade." 
But, in truth, he could not have been more usefully oc- 
cupied. The fire of his batteries, though too distant to 
be very murderous, had a more decisive influence on 
the fate of the day than if he had been mowing down 
whole columns of infantry with grape discharged at 
point-blank range. To march through a tornado of 
round-shot, across a narrow causeway and over a bare 
hill, into a torrent of British bullets which had flowed 
over the heads of those for whom they were intended, 
would have tried old and well-led troops. The specta- 
tors, who crowded every coign of vantage and safety, 
averred that Charlestown, whose wooden houses were 
going up to the sky in smoke and flame, added to the 
grandeur of the panorama ; but that spectacle did not 
increase the attractions of the East end of the peninsula 
to those who approached it in the character of actors in 
the scene. Prescott had shown his good sense, when 
he pronounced that a hungry and weary man, who 
had endured a cannonade, was worth more than any 

and one flint. After this the cartridges were to be made up, and this 
occasioned much delay." And yet they were the first to arrive of all the 

The ammunition was prepared in camp by the soldiers. David How 
of Haverhill has left a military diary curiously attractive by its meagre 
simplicity. " I have been a Running Ball all day ; " he says on one oc- 
casion. " I went to prospeck hill after I had done my Stint Running Ball." 


newcomer, however well he might have slept and break- 
fasted. Some of the regimental leaders missed their 
way. Others showed hesitation, and heard of it after* 
wards to their disadvantage. Many of the privates 
sought shelter after the undignified fashion, or an ex- 
cuse for retiring in the disingenuous pretexts, which 
have been known even among professional armies on 
some of the most famous days in history. They 
straggled, and dispersed themselves behind rocks, hay- 
cocks, and apple-trees ; or they went back in large 
groups around any of their comrades who happened to 
be wounded. A captain of Connecticut militia noticed 
that, when he crossed the top of the hill, there was not 
one company except his own in any kind of order, 
although three battalions had started from camp at or 
about the same moment. Those battalions might have 
behaved very differently if the familiar figure of their 
own General of Brigade, or Division, had been there to 
conduct them through the zone of panic into the less in- 
tolerable ordeal of actual combat. Putnam, in the short 
intervals between the attacks, galloped back to do what 
he could. His exertions, however, were necessarily in- 
termittent, and his title to command in some cases was 
disputed and denied. Part of the reserves advanced as 
far as the rail-fence, and did the good service which 
might be expected of men who found themselves at 
their posts because they wanted to be there, and not be- 
cause they were told to go ; but the brunt of the last 
onset mainly fell upon those who had been on the spot 
from the very first. Sooner or later, and for the most 
part all too late, four thousand of the colonial troops 
passed over Charlestown Neck ; but, in the opinion of 
Washington, the Americans actually engaged at any 
one period of the day did not exceed fifteen hundred. 

The injunctions both of Prescott and of Howe were 
observed to the letter. Our people came on without dis- 
charging a shot ; and it is hardly too much to say that 
every American bullet told. The front rank of the Brit- 
ish went down close to the wall ; and those who came next 


behind them were not long in going over it. In another 
moment the whole South side of the redoubt was bris- 
tling with bayonets ; while, with their backs set against 
the opposite parapet, those colonists, who had a pinch 
of powder remaining, fired it off at the closest quarters. 
And then all was over. Without lead or steel, resistance 
would have been impossible even against soldiers of a 
very inferior sort to those who now were scrambling 
across the earthworks by hundreds. It was at this 
point of the battle that the Fifth Fusiliers were pro- 
nounced by a high authority to have "behaved the best, 
and suffered the most ; " which was already an old story 
with that glorious regiment. Captain Harris, the young 
fellow who had been so keen to fight, was one of them ; 
and when he was carried off the field to be trepanned, 
Lord Rawdon, no bad substitute, succeeded him in the 
command of his company. Among the foremost was 
Major Pitcairn, — the officer who at sunrise on the nine- 
teenth of April had given the word to fire on Lexington 
Common, and whose noble and amiable disposition has 
been scrupulously recognised by American historians. 
He had been wounded twice before in the course of the 
afternoon ; and he now died with four balls in his body, 
having spent his latest breath in calling on his men to 
show what the Marines could do. 1 Other gallant lead- 
ers at Bunker's Hill, after seeing the battle through, fell 
in the very moment of success. Colonel Abercrombie, 
who had charge of the Grenadiers, was taken down to 
the boats mortally hurt, and feverishly entreating his 
comrades not to hang his old friend Putnam, because 
he was a brave fellow. 

Whatever foolish and wrong things had been written 

1 A youth named Oldfield, who had attached himself to Pitcairn, also 
received two wounds; but he lived to fight again, and often again, by sea 
and land as an officer in the famous corps with which at Bunker's Hill he 
had served as a volunteer. Fourteen years afterwards, at St. Jean d'Acre, 
he was interred in the trenches by the French, with his sword upon him, 
as a mark of esteem and admiration; and Napoleon, when a prisoner on 
board the Northumberland, spoke to the Marine officers of his extraordi- 
nary valour. 


or spoken before the event, there was no cruelty, and 
no want of chivalry, between adversaries who had looked 
so close in each other's eyes. Within the circuit of the 
rampart the garrison left more dead than wounded upon 
the ground. But the first few minutes after an escalade 
cannot be regulated by the laws of a tournament ; and 
determined men, who resist to the last, do so with the 
knowledge that they must take their chance of what 
will happen while blood is hot, and the issue still doubt- 
ful. The wonder was that so many of the defenders 
went off alive and free ; but the dry loose earth rose in 
clouds of dust, and in rear of the redoubt the inter- 
mingled throng of friends and foes was so dense that 
the British did not venture to fire. Prescott walked 
quietly through the tumult, parrying thrusts with his 
sword, much as his grandson's narrative describes Her- 
nando Cortes on a certain day in the Great Square of 
Mexico. Thirty of his people were picked up by the 
British, badly injured though still living, and were not 
claimed as prisoners in the despatches. On no occa- 
sion has it been more signally proved than at Bunker's 
Hill how all but impossible it is to capture those who do 
not wish to surrender. 1 

It would have gone harder with the men from the 
fortification if the men at the rail-fence had behaved 
less stoutly. They stood until the retiring garrison had 
passed beyond the right of their line. Then they gave 
ground with a coolness and deliberation most creditable 
to young troops whose flank had been turned, and who 
were now learning that the first ten minutes of a retreat 
are sometimes more dangerous than the whole of a 
battle. For when the American array had disentangled 
itself from the mass of enemies, and presented a clear 
and safe mark, the worst moment of the day began. 
The volleys of the British infantry, and the salvoes from 

1 Gage, in his official letter, speaks of "thirty found wounded in the 
field, three of which are since dead." Some months afterwards special 
account was taken of ten among their number ; and seven of the ten were 
no longer alive. 


ship and battery in flank and rear, were not soon for- 
gotten by those who were exposed to them. " The 
brow of Bunker's Hill," we are told, "was a place of 
great slaughter." It was there that Putnam, in lan- 
guage which came perilously near a breach of the rule 
against swearing in the Military Regulations of Massa- 
chusetts, adjured the colonists to make a stand and give 
them one shot more. Pomeroy, without a sword, but 
with a broken musket in his hand which did as well, 
took upon himself to see that his younger countrymen 
marched steadily past the point of danger. Warren 
never left the redoubt ; for he fell where he had fought, 
and he was buried where he had fallen : a bright figure, 
passing out of an early chapter of the great story as un- 
expectedly and irrevocably as Mercutio from the play. 1 
Pomeroy lamented that on a day when Warren, — ar- 
dent, hopeful, and eloquent, — had fallen, he himself, 
" old and useless," escaped unhurt. He had not long 
to wait. Having resigned his post of Brigadier-General, 
for which he no longer felt himself fit, Pomeroy became 
a regimental officer and, with his seventy years upon 
him, went campaigning in the Jerseys. A course of 
bivouacs brought him a pleurisy ; and he died for Amer- 
ica just as certainly as if, like his young friend, he had 
been shot through the head at Bunker's Hill. 

A hundred and fifteen Americans lay dead across the 
threshold of their country. Their wounded numbered 
three hundred. Of six American cannon one was with 
difficulty dragged back to Cambridge ; and under the 
circumstances even that was much. The British gave 
their own loss at a thousand and forty, of whom ninety- 
two bore the King's commission. That striking dispro- 
portion between leaders and followers was due to the 
gallantry of our officers, and the fatally discriminating 
aim of the minute-men. It reflected nothing whatever 

1 Massachusetts Congress, June 19, 1775 : "That three o'clock be 
assigned for the choice of a President of this Congress in the room of the 
Honourable Joseph Warren, supposed to be killed at the battle of Bunker's 


upon the conduct of the soldiers. Burgoyne indeed, in 
the first moment of surprise and pity, wrote home that 
the zeal and intrepidity of the commanders was ill sec- 
onded by the private men, among whom " discipline, not 
to say courage, was wanting;" but in after days, when 
something of the same kind was alleged in the House 
of Commons, he indignantly refuted the charge. It 
may be presumed that, on thinking it over, he arrived 
at the conclusion that troops who, after losing three 
men out of every seven, walked up to the hostile in- 
trenchments without breaking step or snapping a flint, 
had earned their day's pay honestly, if ever soldiers did. 
Our officers had looked for an easy victory, and had 
given much too free an expression to their anticipations. 
When the hour came they did not fight like braggarts ; 
and they now manfully admitted that they had an adr 
versary with whom it was an honour to measure them- 
selves. " Damn the rebels, they would not flinch," was 
a form of words in which the most prejudiced subaltern 
paid his tribute to the colonists ; and veterans of the 
royal army unanimously agreed that the affair had been 
more serious than anything which they had seen at Min- 
den, or had been told about Fontenoy. 1 A string of 
chaises and chariots, sent down to the water-side by the 
Loyalists of the City, filed slowly back through the streets. 
"In the first carriage was Major Williams, bleeding and 
dying, and three dead captains of the Fifty-second Regi- 
ment. The second contained four dead officers ; and 
this scene continued until Sunday morning, before all 
the wounded private men could be brought to Boston." 2 
But the result of the engagement was small in compari- 
son to the slaughter. General Gage was still on the 
wrong side of Charlestown Neck, looking across it at 
a range of heights stronger by nature, and much more 
elaborately fortified, than that grass-grown upland which 

1 American Archives, from June 18, 1775, onward through July. It 
is noticeable, there and elsewhere, how habitually Minden was quoted as 
the standard of desperate righting. 

2 Lieutenant Clarke's Narrative. 


was strewn so thickly with the flower of his army. It 
was a poor consolation to know that, as Nathanael Greene 
put it, the colonists were always ready to sell him another 
hill at the same price. Burgoyne told the Ministry, 
plainly and at once, that the main position held by the 
enemy could not be carried by assault, and that, if the 
British garrison was ever to leave Boston, it must go 
by water ; and Howe, who had been deeper in the 
carnage than either Gage or Burgoyne, and whose mem- 
ory contained a larger repertory of similar battles to 
compare it with, was never the same man again as when, 
standing on Charlestown beach among his picked com- 
panies, he gave the signal for the first onset. " The sad 
and impressive experience," (so we are told,) " of this 
murderous day sank deep into his mind." After Howe 
had succeeded to the supreme command, it exercised a 
permanent and most potent influence on the operations 
of the war. That joyous confidence, and that eagerness 
to bring matters to an immediate issue, which had been 
his most valuable military endowments, thenceforward 
were apt to fail him at the very moment when they were 
especially wanted. Careless as ever of his personal 
safety, he was destined to lose more than one opportu- 
nity of decisive victory by unwillingness to risk his men's 
lives, and his own fame, against an intrenchment with 
American riflemen behind it. 



Depression reigned in the beleaguered city ; but 
there was no exultation in the camp of the besiegers. 
In war as in politics, the morrow of an epoch-making 
event is not always a season of exhilaration. There is 
weariness and disappointment, and a consciousness that 
the thing has been incompletely done, and an uneasy 
suspicion that it had better never have been attempted. 
Bunker's Hill, next morning and for years to come, pre- 
sented to the colonists who had taken a share in it the 
aspect of something very much short of a Marathon. 
Contemporary accounts of the action, it has been justly 
said, were in a tone of apology or even of censure. 1 
The affair produced a whole sheaf of court-martials ; no 
one stepped forward to claim the credit of it ; and, (what 
in New England was a more significant omission,) 
more than one Seventeenth of June came and went 
without a proposal being made to keep the day as an 
anniversary. The patriots had expected from the enter- 
prise tactical advantages which it was not capable of 
yielding; and they did not yet perceive that, in its 
indirect results, it had been the making of their cause. 
The importance of what had happened was detected by 
their adversaries, and the most accurately by those who 
knew the country best. A gallant Loyalist of Massa- 
chusetts, who fought so well for King George that he 
rose to be a full General in the British army, regarded 
Bunker's Hill as a transaction which controlled every- 
thing that followed. " You could not," he would say to 

1 This is one of the many points acutely perceived, and powerfully illus- 
trated, by Mr. P'rothingham in his Siege of Boston. 



his friends on the other side, "have succeeded without 
it. Something in the then state of parties was indispen- 
sable to fix men somewhere, and to show the planters of 
the South that Northern people were in earnest. That, 
tJiat did the business for you." 1 "The rebels," Gage 
wrote a week after the battle, " are shown not to be the 
disorderly rabble too many have supposed. In all their 
wars against the French they have snowed no such con- 
duct and perseverance as they do now. They do not see 
that they have exchanged liberty for tyranny. No people 
were ever governed more absolutely than the American 
provinces now are ; and no reason can be given for their 
submission but that it is a tyranny which they have 
erected themselves." 2 

There was justice in these conclusions, though they 
were not expressed in friendly words. Bunker's Hill 
had exhibited the Americans to all the world as a peo- 
ple to be courted by allies, and counted with by foes; 
and it had done them the yet more notable service of 
teaching them some home-truths. It was a marvel that 
so many armed citizens had been got together so quickly, 
and a still greater marvel that they had stayed together 
so long. Even a Cabinet Minister could not now deny 
that as individuals they possessed the old courage of their 
race. They had displayed, moreover, certain military 
qualities of a new and special type, such as were naturally 
developed by the local and historical conditions under 
which they had been born and bred. But no one who 
passed the early hours of that summer afternoon on the 
hill over Charlestown, and still more no one who wit- 
nessed the state of things in rear of the position and 
among the headquarters staff at Cambridge, could be 
blind to the conviction that a great deal would have to 
be done, and undone, before the colonies were able to 
hold the field throughout the protracted struggle which 
was now inevitable. The material was there, — excel- 
lent, abundant, and ductile, — of a national army with 

1 The account of General John Coffin in Sabine's Loyalists ; vol. ii., p. 325. 
2 Gage to Dartmouth; Dartmouth MSS., vol. ii., p. 320. 


features of its own deeply marked ; but to mould that 
material into shape was a task which would have to be 
pursued under difficulties of unusual complexity. The 
artificer was already found. A second Continental Con- 
gress had assembled at Philadelphia on the tenth of 
May ; and Colonel Washington, who from that day for- 
ward attended the sittings in his uniform, was Chairman 
of all the Committees appointed to deal with military 
questions. Just before the battle took place, John 
Adams, — resolved to show that New Englanders would 
welcome a Virginian as their general, if a Virginian was 
the right man, — proposed that the assemblage of troops 
then besieging Boston should be adopted by Congress 
as a Continental Army, and indicated Colonel Washing- 
ton as the officer best fitted to command it. 

The suggestion was very generally approved, and in 
the end unanimously accepted. Washington was nom- 
inated as chief " of all the forces then raised, or that 
should be raised thereafter, in the United Colonies, or 
that should voluntarily offer their service for the defence 
of American liberty." There was no stint in the terms 
of his commission ; and he assumed the trust in a spirit 
that was a pledge of the manner in which he would ful- 
fil it. He did not make a pretence of begging off ; but 
once for all, and in simple and solemn terms, he desired 
his colleagues to note that he thought himself unequal 
to the charge with which he was honoured. He refused 
a salary, but agreed to take his actual personal expenses ; 
and the accounts which he thenceforward kept for the 
information of Congress are a model for gentlemen who 
have nothing in. the world to do except to post up their 
household and stable books. It was a fine example, and 
one which, as the war progressed and brought corruption 
in its train, was every year more sorely needed. But 
Washington, according to his own views of what made 
life best worth having, surrendered that for which he 
would not have been compensated by the emoluments 
of a Marlborough. " I am now," he said to his brother, 
" to bid adieu to you, and to every kind of domestic 


ease, for a while. I am embarked on a wide ocean, 
boundless in its prospect, and in which perhaps no safe 
harbour is to be found." Mrs. Washington, like a true 
wife, took care to destroy before her death whatever 
written matter her husband had intended for her eyes 
alone ; but she made an exception in the case of the 
letter announcing the news of his appointment. The 
world can read that letter as a whole, and it should never 
be read otherwise. 1 

Washington was the prototype of those great American 
generals in the War of Secession who, after receiving a 
thorough military education, retired into civil life because 
they loved it, or because the army in time of peace did 
not afford scope for their energies. Grant, Thomas, and 
Sherman had all been trained at West Point, had all 
served long enough to make themselves into practical 
soldiers, and had all left soldiering in order to seek more 
congenial or profitable work in other callings. Sheridan, 
alone among the Federal commanders of the first order, 
had a continuous military career ; but he was too young 
to have gone from the army before the Civil War broke 
out. There had been no West Point for Washington ; 
but the school which he had attended was not lax nor 
luxurious. Carrying his own knapsack ; steering through 
floating ice a raft of logs which he had hewn with his 
own hatchet; outwitting murderous Indians whom he 
was too humane to shoot when he had them at his mercy ; 
and then, after he had penetrated the secrets of the 
wilderness, applying his knowledge to the demands of 
active service against the French enemy, — he learned 
as much as his famous successors ever gathered in the 
classes of their Academy, or in their Mexican campaigns. 
Like them, he laid aside his sword, after he had proved 
it. Like them he resumed it at the call of duty. Like 
them he was not less of a soldier, and much more of a 
statesman and administrator, than if he had spent the 
whole of his early manhood in the superintendence of a 
provincial arsenal, or in the blockhouse of a frontier fort. 

1 The Writings of George Washington, by Jared Sparks ; vol. iii., p. 2. 
VOL. I. Y 


When Washington entered the boundaries of Massa- 
chusetts it became evident that the confidence evinced 
towards him by the representatives of New England at 
Philadelphia was shared by the great majority of their 
countrymen. The Provincial Assembly presented him 
with a congratulatory Address, and did not hesitate to 
admit, in the most uncompromising language, the ardu- 
ous nature of the work which he had before him. Their 
troops, they confessed, were inexperienced and untrained, 
and required to be instructed in the most elementary obli- 
gations of the soldier. "The youth of the army," they 
said, " are not impressed with the absolute necessity of 
cleanliness in their dress and lodging, of continual exer- 
cise and strict temperance, to preserve them from dis- 
eases frequently prevailing in camps, especially among 
those who from their childhood have been used to a 
laborious life." On arriving at Cambridge the Com- 
mander-in-Chief discovered a condition of matters for 
which his recollections of early colonial warfare had 
only in part prepared him. " I found," he said, " a 
mixed multitude of people under very little discipline, 
order, or government." It was true that they knew how 
to shoot ; but, taking the force round, they had only nine 
cartridges a man. One other military accomplishment 
they possessed, and they had exercised it to good pur- 
pose. From the brigadiers downward they all could dig ; 
and in a marvellously short space of time they had thrown 
up a semi-circle of forts, extending over a front of ten 
miles, which effectually enclosed the garrison of Boston 
on the side of the mainland. Their industry in this de- 
partment took no account of Sundays, and had some- 
thing to do with that want of external smartness which 
attracted the unfavourable attention of their provincial 
Congress. General Putnam for instance, who held that 
every virtue, even the second on the list, had its times 
and seasons, was toiling at the intrenchments of Prospect 
Hill on the morning of the eighteenth of June in the 
same clothes as he had worn on the sixteenth, and 
through the dust and smoke of the battle of the seven- 


teenth. In answer to a sympathetic inquirer he allowed 
that he had not washed for eight and forty hours. 

But by the end of June the immediate danger was over. 
The works had been so aptly planned, and so vigorously 
prosecuted, that the steady labour of another week 
rendered them as good as impregnable. Towards the 
North, the key of the position was Prospect Hill; or 
Mount Pisgah, as these sons of Puritans preferred to 
call it when they surveyed from its commanding sum- 
mit that which they now, in all the confidence of victory, 
regarded as the Promised City. At Roxbury to the South, 
opposite Boston Neck, the ground was rocky, and the 
American engineers had made the most of their advan- 
tages. "Roxbury," an observer wrote, "is amazingly 
strong. It would puzzle ten thousand troops to go through 
it." Washington was able to muster fifteen thousand sol- 
diers fit for duty ; too few, and too new, for an attempt 
upon the British lines ; but, as long as he could keep his 
numbers undiminished, amply sufficient to guard his own. 
There was a breathing space, and he turned it to profit. 
In his first General Order he reminded the troops that 
they were now a national army. " It is to be hoped," 
he wrote, " that all distinctions of colonies will be laid 
aside, so that one and the same spirit may animate the 
whole, and the only contest be who shall render the most 
essential service to the great common cause in which 
we are all engaged." He distributed the regiments into 
brigades and divisions, under the best commanders 
whom he could obtain ; or at all events under the least 
bad of those whom he was obliged to take. Some gen- 
erals were imposed upon him by the very circumstances 
which made them unsuitable, or intractable. He could 
not get quit of Ward, who was strong in the universal 
respect acquired by his all too ancient services. Charles 
Lee, whose pretensions and plausibilities, not yet brought 
to the proof, gained him an undeserved reputation in 
that homely civilian army, had usurped, and for many 
months continued to occupy, the secure ground of a man 
supposed to be indispensable. But in Greene and Putnam, 

y 2 


Sullivan and Thomas, Washington had coadjutors of 
whom the first became, ere very long, equal to any re- 
sponsibility which could be imposed upon him, and the 
others were thoroughly at home in every position below 
the highest. 

The motley host, all alive with independence and 
individuality, was housed in appropriate fashion. A 
pleasing representation of what he saw on the hillsides 
to the West of Boston has been left by the Reverend 
William Emerson, of Concord : the member of a family 
where good writing was hereditary, and in which, two 
generations after, it became united to lofty thought and 
a teeming imagination. " It is very diverting," the min- 
ister said, " to walk among the camps. They are as 
different in their form as the owners are in their dress ; 
and every tent is a portraiture of the temper and taste 
of the persons who encamp in it. Some are made of 
boards, and some of sailcloth. Again, others are made 
of stone and turf, brick or brush. Some are thrown up 
in a hurry ; others curiously wrought with doors and 
windows, done with wreaths and withes, in the manner 
of a basket. Some are your proper tents and marquees, 
looking like the regular camp of the enemy. I think 
this great variety is rather a beauty than a blemish in 
the army." 

In the eyes of the Commander-in-Chief, however, 
there was a limit to the advantages of the picturesque. 
The troops might lodge themselves according to their 
fancy ; but he was determined that their superiors should 
have a voice in settling how they were to be clothed. 
The men provided their own raiment ; and they were 
perpetually trading and swapping their habiliments, and 
even their accoutrements, or they would not have been 
New Englanders. 1 Those who possessed a uniform 

1 All through the siege, and for some time afterwards, David How's 
Diary gives a minute account of the traffic which went on in the canton- 

"Feb. 3, 1776. I drawd a pare of Breaches out of the Stores price 
27* 6 d . 


had not yet learned to take a pride in it, as was shown 
on the seventeenth of June by some Connecticut troops 
who behaved very creditably in the battle. " We 
marched," their commander wrote, " with our frocks 
and trowsers on over our other clothes, (for our com- 
pany is in blue, turned up with red,) for we were loath 
to expose ourselves by our dress." Washington re- 
ported to Congress that the provision of some sort of 
Regulation costume was an urgent necessity. " A num- 
ber of hunting shirts, not less than ten thousand, would 
remove this difficulty in the cheapest and quickest man- 
ner. I know nothing in a speculative view more trivial, 
yet which if put in practice would have a happier ten- 
dency to unite the men, and abolish those provincial 
distinctions which lead to jealousy and dissatisfaction." 
Meanwhile he did his best, with the store of finery which 
was at his disposal, to establish the outward signs of a 
military hierarchy. Under a General Order, Serjeants 
were to carry a stripe of red cloth on the right shoulder, 
and Corporals one of green. A field officer mounted a 
red cockade, and a Captain a yellow cockade. Generals 
were desired to wear a pink riband, and Aides-de-camp 
a green riband ; while the person of the Commander-in- 
Chief was marked by a light blue sash worn across his 
breast between coat and waistcoat. As long as the head 
of the army was Washington, he needed no insignia to 
distinguish him. Whether on foot or in the saddle, 
wherever his blue coat with buff facings was seen, — on 
a Sunday parade, or as he galloped through the bullets 
to meet, and lead back into the fire, a retreating regi- 

" Feb. 6. I let David Chandler have my Breaches that I drawd out of 
the Stores. 

" Feb. 26. I sold my Cateridge box for 4* 6 d Lawfull money. 

"March 12. William Parker made me a pair of Half Boots. I sold 
William Parker my old Half Boots for Two Shillings and }</. 

" May 27. William Parker made me a pare of Shoes." It may be 
mentioned that Parker was a private in the same company as the writer. 

" June 29. I went to for teag " (fatigue) " this Day. I bought a pare 
of trouses of Sergt- Camble price gs. I sold A pare of Trouses To Nathan 
Peabody price 10^." 


ment, — he looked, every one of his many inches, the 
king of men that nature had made him. Those on 
whom his countenance was turned in battle, in council, 
or in friendly intercourse, never doubted that the mind 
within was worthy of that stately presence. " I was 
struck with General Washington," wrote Mrs. Adams 
to her husband. " You had prepared me, but I thought 
the half was not told me. Dignity, with ease and com- 
placency, the gentleman and the soldier, look agreeably 
blended in him. Modesty marks every line and feature 
of his face." 

On grounds of policy, and from the bent of his dispo- 
sition, the Commander-in-Chief missed no opportunity 
for such spectacles and pageants as the exigencies of 
the time allowed. " There is great overturning in the 
camp," Emerson wrote, " as to order and regularity. 
New Lords, new laws. The Generals Washington and 
Lee are upon the lines every day. New orders from 
his Excellency are read to the respective regiments 
every morning after prayers." One of those Orders 
required and expected of all officers and soldiers, not 
engaged on actual duty, a punctual attendance at Divine 
Service, to implore the blessings of Heaven upon the 
means used for the public safety and defence. These 
religious gatherings were occasionally enlivened by a 
touch of genial enthusiasm. On the eighteenth of July 
a message from Congress was read to the troops on 
Prospect Hill ; " after which an animated and pathetic 
address was made by the Chaplain to General Putnam's 
regiment, and was succeeded by a pertinent prayer. 
General Putnam gave the signal, and the whole army 
shouted their loud Amen by three cheers ; immediately 
on which a cannon was fired from the fort, and the 
standard lately sent to General Putnam flourished in 
the air." On the banner was inscribed a short and 
telling Latin phrase, implying that He who had brought 
the fathers across the ocean would not forget the chil- 
dren. 1 Against one ceremony which, it is to be feared, 

1 " Qui Transtulit Sustinet." 


was more popular among New England troops than any 
other, Washington set his face resolutely ; for he would 
not permit them to burn the Pope. There were so few 
Catholics in the army that the General did not refer to 
their presence as a reason for disappointing his soldiers 
of a treat which they had so often relished in their na- 
tive villages. He based his decision on the importance 
to the colonies of doing nothing to alienate the French 
Canadians, whose friendship and alliance the statesmen 
at Philadelphia had not yet despaired of securing. 

Washington knew that something more than sermons 
and celebrations was required to make an aggregation 
of human beings into an obedient army. " The strictest 
government," said Mr. Emerson, "is taking place, and 
great distinction is made between officers and soldiers. 
Every one is made to know his place, and keep in it." 
Discipline and morality were maintained and vindicated 
with less of indulgence and connivance, but with a far 
smaller amount of cruelty, than prevailed in European 
camps. Loose women were expelled from the lines, 
marauding was severely checked, and corporal punish- 
ments were inflicted ; though, (in a community where 
everything was regulated on Scriptural precedents,) the 
number of lashes appears never to have exceeded thirty- 
nine. 1 Rogues were in terror, and laggards found it 
their interest to bestir themselves ; but honest fellows 
who did not shirk their duty enjoyed life as it never has 
been enjoyed in any campaign, the familiar details of 

1 " Feb. 7. This Day two men In Cambridge got a bantering who 
would Drink the most, and they Drinkd so much That one of them Died 
In About one houre or two after. 

" Feb. 10. There was two women Drumd out of Camp this fore noon. 
That man was Buried that killed himself drinking. 

" March 27. There was four of Capt. Willey's men Whept, the first fif- 
teen stripes for denying his Deuty : the 2 d 39 stripes for Stealing and de- 
serting : 3 d 10 lashes for getting Drunk and Denying Duty : 4 d 20 lashes 
Denying his Duty and geting Drunk. 

" May 1. One of Cap*- Pharinton's men Was whipt 20 lashes for being 
absent at rool Call without Leave. 

" May 26. This Night Mical Bary was whipt 39 Stripes for being 
absent at rool Call." 


which have been noted with equal minuteness. All 
arrangements which bore upon the health and the com- 
forts of the private men were diligently taken in hand 
by their commander. Regimental officers were made 
answerable for seeing that every dwelling, where soldiers 
lived, was cleaned every morning. Camp kitchens were 
built ; very great care was given to the cookery ; and 
there was plenty to cook. " I doubt not," King George 
wrote to Lord Dartmouth, " but the twenty thousand 
provincials are a magnified force occasioned by the fears 
of the correspondent. Should the numbers prove true 
it would be highly fortunate, as so large a corps must 
soon retire to their respective homes for want of sub- 
sistence." But there was very little prospect of such 
a termination to the war ; for the Provincial Assembly 
was determined that the defenders of the colony should 
be well on the right side of starvation. The Massachu- 
setts soldier received every day a pound of bread, half 
a pound of beef, and half a pound of pork, together 
with a pint of milk, a quart of "good spruce or malt 
beer," and a gill of peas or beans. A pound and a 
quarter of salt fish was substituted for the meat on one 
day in the seven. Every week there were served out 
half a dozen ounces of butter, and half a pint of vinegar, 
(if vinegar was to be had,) to each of the men, and one 
pound of good common soap among six of them. Nor 
was that all. Supplies poured into the camp ; and the 
soldiers bought largely and judiciously, eating and drink- 
ing freely of what they could not sell again at a profit. 
In the course of eight days the caterer of a single mess 
purchased three barrels of cider ; seven bushels of chest- 
nuts ; four of apples, at twelve shillings a bushel ; and 
a wild turkey for supper, which weighed over seven- 
teen pounds. 1 It may safely be said that his Majesty, 
who set a praiseworthy example of abstinence in the 
midst of a gouty generation, would as soon have thought 
of consuming the whole of the daily ration which was 

1 David How 's Diary ; January 24 to 31, 1776. 


placed before his rebellious subjects as of adopting their 
political tenets. 

Within the city good eating was almost a thing of the 
past. Before the end of July Washington had learned 
that the British troops were insufficiently and badly fed, 
and that their health suffered. Captain Stanley, who 
as a son of Lord Derby would command the best which 
might be had for money, mentioned in a letter that he 
had only tasted fresh meat twice since his arrival in 
Boston. 1 The wounded men, he said, recovered very 
slowly indeed upon a diet which, even if no battle had 
taken place, would soon have filled the hospitals. A 
local merchant, — writing to his brother with a latitude 
of virulence which, in times of danger and discord, 
civilian partisans too often allow themselves, — stated 
positively that, when the ammunition in the pouches of 
the rebels on Bunker's Hill was examined, the balls 
were found to be poisoned ; but no military man either 
believed, or repeated, a slander quite superfluous for the 
purpose of explaining the high rate of mortality which 
prevailed in the garrison. Our soldiers took what came 
as the fortune of war ; and the fortune of war was very 
hard. Sick or well, whole or hurt, they had nothing to 
eat but salt pork and peas, with an occasional meal of 
fish. " An egg was a rarity," and their wretched diet 
was never mended by so much as a vegetable or a drop 
of milk. What fresh beef there was in the town had 
been obtained by slaughtering milch cows which could 
not have been kept alive in the increasing dearth of 
forage. The daily deaths never sank below ten, and 
sometimes rose to thirty. From July onwards, to pre- 
vent discouragement, no bells were allowed to toll. As 
summer changed to autumn, and autumn to winter, the 
distress, sharp everywhere, became extreme in private 

1 According to the American satirists the Commander-in-Chief himself 
was no better off than his regimental officers. In a contemporary poem 
Gage is represented as exclaiming : — 

"Three weeks ; — Ye Gods ! nay, three long years it seems 
Since roast beef I have touched, except in dreams." 


families ; and those were not few, for between six and 
seven thousand of the population had remained in the 
town. Fresh meat in July cost fifteen pence a pound ; 
and by the middle of December that price had to be 
paid for salt provisions. 1 The King's stores ran so very 
short that no flour or pulse could be spared for the use of 
non-combatants. It was bitterly cold, and all the fuel had 
been burned away. That want was met by an expedient 
which excited painful feelings among the Loyalist exiles 
across the ocean, 2 and was a cruel sight indeed for peo- 
ple who were still in their native city because they loved 
it so that they could not bear to leave it. All of Charles- 
town which had survived the conflagration was first 
pulled down, and issued to the regiments for firewood ; 
and then the troops proceeded to help themselves from 
the fences of the Boston gardens, and the doors and 
rafters of the Boston houses. The British General sent 
the Provost Marshal on his rounds, accompanied by an 
executioner, and armed with powers to hang on the spot 
any man who was caught in the act of wrecking a dwell- 
ing house ; but the authorities continued to do on a 
system that which the soldiers had begun under the spur 
of necessity. A hundred wooden buildings were marked 
for demolition ; and hatchet and crow-bar were steadily 
plied, until the arrival of a fleet of colliers from the 
Northern English ports spared Boston any further taste 
of the destiny which had overtaken her humble neighbour 
beyond the ferry. 

It was sad work at the best ; and all the more hate- 

1 After the investment of the town commenced, Captain Harris, " as 
good a beef-eater as any belonging to His Majesty," sorely resented the 
want of fresh meat; and he made himself a garden in order to provide the 
mess with vegetables. " Such salad ! Such excellent greens the young 
turnip-tops make ! Then the spinach, and radishes, with the cucumbers, 
beans and peas promised so well," as a future relish to the salt provisions. 
Before ever his garden-produce came to maturity, Harris was seriously 
wounded at Bunker's Hill. " As a sick person," he then wrote, "I am con- 
fined to broth alone; but broth of salt pork ! We ourselves get a piece of 
an old ox, or cow, at the rate of fourteen times as much as we paid last 

2 Curwcrfs Journal ; Feb. 15, 1776. 


ful to Bostonians because it afforded a pretext for 
mortifying the richer members of the popular party 
whose circumstances had enabled them to leave the 
town, and those poorer patriots who had no choice but 
to stay there. A fine old elm, which went by the name 
of Liberty Tree, had during ten years served the public 
as a rallying place for political gatherings. Fourteen 
cords of firewood were now obtained from the ven- 
erable trunk. Sons of Liberty, all the continent over, 
consoled themselves by knowing, or at all events by 
believing, that a soldier had met his death in falling 
from the branches while engaged upon what they re- 
garded as an act of sacrilege. 1 It was perhaps too much 
to expect that the noteworthy tree would be spared 
in the hour of retribution by redcoats who had so 
often been roundly abused beneath its spreading foli- 
age; but far worse things were done with much less ex- 
cuse. The old North Church had stood for a hundred 
years, and, relatively to the duration of the city, was as 
much a piece of antiquity as St. Albans Abbey or 
Beverley Minster. It was now taken clown and sent in 
smoke, with all its memories and associations, up the 
chimneys of a hundred barrack-rooms. The steeple 

1 The catastrophe was celebrated in the kind of verses which some- 
body at all times can be found to write, and which, during a period of 
national excitement, even sensible men contrive to read. 

"Each, axe in hand, attacked the honoured tree, 
Swearing eternal war with Liberty. 
But e'er it fell, not mindless of its wrong, 
Avenged it took one destined head along. 
A Tory soldier on its topmost limb, — 
The genius of the shade looked stern at him, 
And marked him out that self-same hour to dine 
Where unsnuffed lamps burn low at Pluto's shrine." 

There were smaller Liberty Trees in other quarters of the city. On 
May 4, 1766, John Adams wrote : — 

" Sunday. Returning from meeting this morning I saw for the first time 
a likely young button-wood tree, lately planted on a triangle made by 
three roads. The tree is well set, well guarded, and has on it an inscription, 

' The tree of Liberty, and cursed is he who cuts this tree ! ' 
What will be the consequences of this thought? I hear that some persons 
grumble, and threaten to girdle it." 


of the West Church, built of large timbers, underwent 
the same fate. 

Little love was lost between the British authorities 
and the minister and deacons of the old South Church, 
which had been frequently lent to the patriots for town- 
meetings. The parsonage was destroyed, mercifully and 
at once ; but the church was treated as too bad for burn- 
ing. The nave was made over to the cavalry as a place 
in which to exercise recruits on horse-back. Pulpit 
and seats were cut in pieces. Earth and gravel were 
spread over the floor ; a leaping-bar was set up ; the 
gallery was fitted as a refreshment room for spectators; 
and the stoves were fed with the contents of a library, 
the pride of the connection to whom the chapel be- 
longed. The responsibility for this desecration, justly 
or unjustly, was laid at the doors of General Burgoyne. 
He had offended a people with quick tongues, and long 
memories. Two years afterwards, when he entered 
Boston as a prisoner, he called the attention of his 
staff to a public building beneath which they were 
passing, as having been formerly the residence of the 
Governor ; and a voice in the crowd quietly observed that, 
when they got round the next corner, they would see 
the Riding-school. Burgoyne took that remark like 
a man who loved a jest ; but he subsequently confessed 
that at another point of his route, he had been for a 
moment disconcerted by learning that the first sentence 
which he was known to have uttered after reaching 
America had not yet been forgotten. As the procession 
filed with difficulty through the ranks of a populace, 
good-humoured, but obtrusively curious, an old lady 
called out from the top of a shed : " Make way ! Make 
way ! Give the General elbow-room ! " 

It was a miserable life inside Boston for troops who 
had sailed from England in the belief that they were to 
take part in a triumphant, and leisurely, progress through 
a series of rich and repentant provinces. The horses 
soon became useless from want of food ; a circumstance 
always predominant among the material causes which 


destroy the efficiency of a blockaded army. Moral 
deterioration began to be observed among the soldiers, 
whose spring and energy were slowly and stealthily un- 
dermined by the depressing character of the existence 
which they were condemned to lead. No one could 
show himself outside the earthworks without having a 
bullet through him ; and the men on guard within them 
carried their lives in their hand at every moment. 
Generals bred in the traditions of European warfare 
complained of the proceedings of the colonists as un- 
generous and unprofessional. In July and August the 
Southern riflemen marched into Washington's camp, — 
stout hardy men, in white frocks and round hats, — who 
had trudged four, five, or even seven hundred miles to 
have a shot at the regulars ; and who were determined 
not to be baulked of it however much Prince Ferdinand 
and Marshal de Contades, many years back and thou- 
sands of miles away, would have been shocked at such 
a departure from the honourable amenities of a cam- 
paign. On the way North they had shown off their 
skill at a review. One of their companies, while ad- 
vancing in skirmishing order, had put a good propor- 
tion of balls into a mark seven inches broad at a 
distance of two hundred and fifty yards. They now 
posted themselves in ambush, five or six of them behind 
as many neighbouring trees, and watched for a favour- 
able chance at a British sentry as they had been accus- 
tomed to wait upon the movements of a deer in the 
forests of South Carolina. 

Cooped up within two promontories, which were like 
small islands without the security of an insular position, 
our soldiers lost their health and spirits, and after a 
while something of their self-respect. Scurvy showed 
itself ; the smallpox raged in the streets and cantonments ; 
and the British commanders were of opinion that Wash- 
ington, on that ground alone, even if he had not still 
better reasons, would think twice and thrice before he 
should assault the town. When winter was half over 
the rank and file no longer retained the smart appear- 


ance which was then, even more than now, the delight 
of regimental officers. Hats without binding, and shirts 
without frills ; unpowdered hair, unwashed linen, and 
unbuttoned gaiters, formed the subjects of denunciation 
in General Orders ; and, that nothing might be wanting, 
some of the privates went so far as to borrow from the 
enemy that habit which was the least worthy of imita- 
tion, and chewed tobacco when they came on duty. 
The British Commander-in-Chief was far from indiffer- 
ent to these deviations from the recognised standard 
of military perfection ; and he was stern and inflexible 
when the demoralisation, of which they were the symp- 
toms, took the shape of violence and spoliation directed 
against the inhabitants of the city. Subordination was 
preserved, and crime kept in check, by that form of 
punishment which had become so much of an institu- 
tion in our fighting services that officers, who otherwise 
were neither unjust nor unkindly, altogether lost sight 
of the distinction between severity and barbarity. Sen- 
tences were passed, and carried out, of four hundred, 
six hundred, one thousand lashes. 

There was one General in Boston who viewed these 
excesses of rigour with disapprobation. Burgoyne held 
that harshness was seldom required for the government 
of men who were habitually treated by their superiors 
with discrimination and sympathy. He hated flogging. 
Wherever he commanded, he exercised his artistic in- 
genuity in order to find a substitute for that penalty ; 
and when, according to the ideas of the time, it could 
not be dispensed with, he took care that it was inflicted 
in a measure carefully regulated by the gravity of the 
offence. A splendid disciplinarian of the right sort, he 
kept his officers in order, and they liked him all the 
better for it. He had learned by experience that that 
was the surest method of keeping order among the 
privates. According to Burgoyne, the captain and the 
subalterns between them should be acquainted with 
the disposition and the merits of every man in the com- 
pany, and were not to be contented with noting down 


his height, the girth of his chest, and the number of 
times his name had appeared on the defaulters' list. "To 
succeed," he said, " where minds are to be wrought upon 
requires both discernment and labour. Admitting that 
English soldiers are to be treated as thinking beings, the 
reason will appear of getting insight into the character 
of each particular man, and proportioning accordingly 
the degrees of punishment and encouragement." 1 

Burgoyne now did his best to divert the monotony of 
the siege, and to show the troops that, since good vict- 
uals had run short, their superiors were all the more 
anxious to cater for their amusement. Faneuil Hall, 
where the people had assembled both after the Boston 
Massacre, and before the destruction of the tea, was 
converted into a theatre. The idea of turning the cradle 
of liberty to such a use did not escape censorious com- 
ment ; but it must be remembered that Boston was a 
city where it was not easy to find any capacious build- 
ing, sacred or profane, in which a political meeting had 
never been held. The company gave the tragedy of 
Tamerlane ; some modern comedies ; and a piece of oc- 
casion entitled the Blockade, in which the person of 
Washington was caricatured with a flippancy which the 
course of events soon rendered unfashionable even 
among his adversaries. Burgoyne contributed a pro- 
logue, spoken by a very young nobleman who had dis- 
tinguished himself on the seventeenth of June. " Lord 
Rawdon," said Burgoyne, " behaved to a charm. His 
name is established for life." That life was long, and 
so varied and stirring that it reads like the story of as 
many separate men as the three names by which he, 
who lived it, was successively called. Always to the 
front in a fight, and the last in a retreat, Lord Rawdon 
proved himself a brilliant and successful partisan leader 

1 Burgoyne, in the fulness of time, had an able biographer in the late 
Mr. Edward Barrington de Fonblanque. Mr. de Fonblanque was in our 
own days a wise, perfectly informed, and, (for he was a permanent official 
in the War Department,) a singularly courageous, military reformer. He 
wrote quite as well as might be expected from a nephew of the famous editor 
of the " Examiner." 


in the war which now was opening. As Lord Moira he 
was an orator for many a long year at Westminster, 
and in the House of Peers of Ireland, as long as Ireland 
had one ; a prominent and a popular statesman ; and a 
good friend of Fox and of liberty, at a time when they 
both wanted friends badly. And far into the next cen- 
tury, as a Governor-General too old to lead his own 
armies, Lord Hastings organised conquest on a scale 
which dazzled his fellow-countrymen, and terrified his em- 
ployers on the board of the East India Company. After 
he had taught a lesson to Nepaul, and had finally and 
effectually broken the power of the Mahrattas, — per- 
haps the greatest single service which our rule has 
conferred on our Eastern dependency, — it may well be 
believed that he but dimly remembered what his sensa- 
tions were when he found himself on the right side of 
the breastwork at Bunker's Hill, with two bullet holes in 
his hat, and his reputation made. 

George the Third was not long in showing what he 
considered to be the practical value of the victory which 
his troops had gained. As soon as the news reached 
Kew he at once desired that General Gage should turn 
over the command to Howe, and sail for England in 
order to inform the Ministry as to what supplies and 
reinforcements the army wanted for carrying on the 
next campaign. It was a kindly pretext, devised to 
spare the feelings of an unprofitable, but a faithful and a 
brave, servant. 1 In recalling that ill-starred commander, 
the King acted on his own first, and most just, impres- 
sions. He made up his mind without waiting to read a 
letter containing Burgoyne's enumeration of the points 
wherein Gage failed to resemble Julius Caesar, especially 
in the wise munificence with which the great Roman 
dispensed public money to his deserving lieutenants. 
Burgoyne himself went home in November, having 
been summoned back by royal command because his 
advice was really wanted. Before, however, the two 

1 Not very long ago a gold medal, presented to Gage by the Duke ol 
Cumberland after Culloden, was sold at auction for 230/. 


Generals departed from Boston they were engaged on 
one more joint literary undertaking. Washington had 
addressed to the British Commander-in-Chief a remon- 
strance against the denial to American officers, who had 
been taken prisoners, of the privileges and alleviations 
due to their rank. Gage's reply was worded by Bur- 
goyne. " Britons," he wrote, " ever pre-eminent in 
mercy, have overlooked the criminal in the captive. 
Your prisoners, whose lives by the law of the land are 
destined to the cord, have hitherto been treated with 
care and kindness ; — indiscriminately, it is true, for I 
acknowledge no rank that is not derived from the King." 
The author might well have stopped here ; but the op- 
portunity was irresistible, and he proceeded to inflict upon 
Washington, as a person only too likely to need it, a lec- 
ture on the obligation of scrupulous truthfulness. When 
the rough copy had been fairly written out, the letter was 
addressed to George Washington, Esquire ; and the 
notoriety obtained by this superscription is the cause that 
the effusion itself, unfortunately for Burgoyne, has been 
more read than all his dramas and epilogues together. 

The authorities in England had not foreseen the pri- 
vations which our troops in Boston were so early called 
upon to endure. It was difficult to understand that the 
army of a great sea-power, strongly established in a sea- 
port town, would at the very commencement of hostili- 
ties be faring no better than the sailors on board an 
ill-found East Indiaman in the last days of a long voyage. 
The crops and live-stock, on the islands alone, might have 
been counted upon to stave off scurvy until such time 
as the harbour was crowded with provision-ships attracted 
from far and near by the prospect of a splendid market. 
But, upon her own element, Great Britain was poorly 
served ; and, in a species of warfare where personal quali- 
ties went for everything, the skill, the energy, and the 
daring were to a preponderating degree on the side of 
the insurgents. On the fifteenth of July the colonels of 
American regiments were directed to report the names 

VOL. i. z 


of men in their respective corps who were expert in the 
management of whaleboats. 1 The House of Commons 
which, in spite of all that Charles Fox could say, had 
insisted on driving New England fishermen from the 
prosecution of their calling, had made it certain that the 
list of the volunteers would in every case be a long one. 
A large fleet of these boats had already been brought 
overland from Cape Cod, and from the towns lying be- 
tween that point and Boston. The vessels were fitted 
out in the Cambridge, and the Mystic, rivers, and before 
another week was over they were busy in the bay. 
Thenceforward the men in the garrison got no fresh 
food, and the horses neither fresh nor dry. The colo- 
nists seized what remained of the flocks and herds. 
They cut the standing grass, and loaded up their barges' 
from the hay-ricks. They came off the best in their en- 
counters with the British soldier, who could do himself 
little justice in operations for which he had not been 
trained ; and in which, as he complained, assistance and 
guidance did not come from the quarter where he had a 
right to look for them. " The Admiral," so a General 
wrote, " must take to himself a great share of our inac- 
tivity, our disgrace, and our distress. The glaring facts 
are not to be concealed ; that many vessels have been 
taken, officers killed, men made prisoners ; that large 
numbers of swift boats have been supplied to the enemy, 
in which they have insulted and plundered islands im- 
mediately under the protection of our ships, and at noon- 
day landed in force and set fire to the light-house almost 
under the guns of two or three men of war." 2 

For the British squadron was not efficient. It had 
been put in commission, and despatched to America, 

1 American Archives. Writings of George Washington ; vol. iii., Ap- 
pendix X. 

2 When Judge Curwen, the Massachusetts Loyalist, was travelling in the 
West of England, they pointed out to him " the seat of the well-known 
Admiral Graves, whose base unworthy conduct in America has justly 
brought the curses of the people on his head, displeased his sovereign and 
the Ministry, and rendered himself the contempt of all." Samuel Cur- 
wen 's Journal ; October 18, 1776. 


under an impression that its duties would be confined 
to warning merchantmen not to enter the harbour of 
Boston, and to intimidating the idle and famished mari- 
ners who crowded her quays by the rows of cannon 
which protruded from its portholes. Too few sloops 
and gun-boats had been provided ; and the crews both 
of large ships and small were on a peace establishment 
which, (before the days of Continuous Service,) fell 
much below the complements carried in time of war. 
The belief that America would take her punishment 
submissively was an article of the Ministerial creed 
which no one at the Board of Admiralty ventured to 
dispute. As one very serious consequence of that delu- 
sion, the fleet, and not a few of the vessels composing 
it, were indifferently commanded. Unaware that he 
had already to deal with an active and amphibious rebel- 
lion, and that several great wars were in the near future, 
the Earl of Sandwich gave full scope to private and po- 
litical favouritism in his management of the Service 
for whose condition, and in no small degree for whose 
honour, he was responsible. Clever and industrious, he 
had the Navy List by heart; and he knew the opinions, 
and the family and social connections, of his Admirals 
and Post-Captains as familiarly and thoroughly as ever 
Mr. John Robinson knew his Members of Parliament. 
Eminent officers, who held with Rockingham, were not 
in request at Whitehall ; and there was a still blacker 
mark against the names of those veterans who had illus- 
trated by their achievements the Ministry of Lord Chat- 
ham, and who repaid his gratitude and esteem with a 
personal loyalty which cost them dear. 1 

Their place was taken by men of a much lower order ; 
among whom the two flag officers successively appointed 
to the American station were conspicuous, the one by 
his insolence and indiscretion, and the other by his 

1 Captain Mahan, in his account of the operations at sea between 1775 
and 1783, remarks that, with the notable exception of Rodney, almost all 
the distinguished admirals of the time were Whigs; — "a fact unfortunate 
for the naval power of England." 



incompetency. Admiral Montagu had done a great deal 
to provoke the rebellion, and Admiral Graves did noth- 
ing whatever to quell it. " It may be asked in England," 
said Burgoyne, " what is the admiral doing ? I wish I 
were able to answer that question satisfactorily ; but I 
can only say what he is not doing." The array of in- 
stances by which charges of procrastination, want of 
spirit, and professional incapacity were supported would 
have been formidable in the hands of any accuser ; and, 
as unfolded by Burgoyne, the indictment was as porten- 
tous in length as it was damning in force and accuracy. 1 
But nothing that was done or neglected in American 
waters had escaped the eye of a master who never par- 
doned slackness in himself or others: " I do think the 
Admiral's removal as necessary, if what is reported is 
founded, as the mild General's." So the King wrote 
to Lord North in the summer ; and, before the winter 
was through, Graves had been deprived of his com- 
mand. He was preceded to England by the news, or 
it may be the rumour, of the only bit of fighting in which 
he was personally engaged, — a scuffle in the streets of 
Boston with an official of ,the revenue. He considered 
himself to have been badly treated by the Government, 
and evinced his resentment in a manner which was 
honourable to him. Having refused a lucrative post on 
shore, he passed the short remainder of his days in a re- 
tirement which he made it to be understood that nothing 
except a call to active service would induce him to quit. 2 
Before the Admiral received his letter of recall the 
mischief was already done. The colonists had not been 

1 Life and Correspondence of Burgoyne, by E. B. de Fonblanque ; pp. 
197, 198. 

2 Popular report made out Graves to be absurd as well as unsuccessful; 
for the opposite of a hero, like a hero, is usually something of a mythical 
personage. It has been related in print how, on his elevation to the peer- 
age, he chose a Latin motto to the effect that an eagle does not stoop to 
flies; and how the wags translated it as meaning that a Vice Admiral need 
not concern himself with whaleboats. As a matter of fact, the peerage was 
bestowed not on Samuel Graves, but on Thomas Graves, who earned it 
gloriously on the First of June, and who was always ready for anything 
which came in his way, from a longboat to a couple of three-deckers. 


slow to catch at an opportunity when the interests of 
Great Britain were entrusted to a squadron which was 
ill provided, and worse commanded ; and the American 
navy came into being during the second half of the 
year 1775. The first vessels sailed beneath the pine-tree 
flag. The emblem was appropriately chosen ; because 
the service, which fought its earliest battles under that 
ensign, struck its own roots and grew up of itself. 
In every colony, (since all touched the ocean some- 
where,) there were shipowners whose whalers and 
coasters were laid up in harbour, merchants whose 
capital was producing nothing, and whole villages of 
sea-faring people with their occupation gone. Rhode 
Island had two cruisers afloat in July; and on the first 
of the same month the Assembly of Connecticut author- 
ised the equipment of two others. The Congressmen 
of Massachusetts had been the first to recognise the 
necessity of a fleet; but Bunker's Hill diverted their 
attention to the war on land, and the subject was allowed 
to sleep. Soon, however, the hand of the Provincial 
authorities was forced by individuals who put to sea 
without letters of marque ; and who, while the enemy 
classed them as pirates, had not the status of privateers 
even in the eyes of their own Government. Moved by 
the danger to their necks which these adventurous 
patriots had cheerfully incurred, the Assembly at Con- 
cord hastened to legalise the employment of armed ships, 
and proceeded to establish a Court for the trial and con- 
demnation of prizes. 

The prime mover in the creation of a national marine 
was the man most intimately acquainted with the broad 
aspects of the military position, and most deeply con- 
cerned in the issue. Washington, outstepping the attri- 
butes of his office in substance, but careful to observe 
them in form, directed " a captain in the army of the 
united colonies of North America to take command of 
a detachment of the said army, and proceed on board 
the schooner Hannah at Beverley." x The Congress at 

1 The Writings of George Wasfiington ; vol. iii., Appendix X. 


Philadelphia was not in a mood to get up a quarrel with 
their General for exceeding his powers. Urged by his 
importunity, and fired by his example, they armed and 
manned six schooners, which by the end of October 
were chasing, and being chased, in and about Massachu- 
setts Bay. A permanent Committee, with John Adams 
upon it, was appointed for the supervision of naval 
affairs ; a code of regulations was drawn up and issued 
to the squadron ; and skippers and mates in sufficient 
number were duly commissioned as Captains, and Lieu- 
tenants, of the Continental Navy. Washington, how- 
ever, to all intents and purposes continued to act as 
Admiral; until Captain Manly of the Lee by the audac- 
ity of his enterprises was marked out to the judgement 
of America for her first Commodore. 

It was evident from a very early date that the new 
sea-power had an instinctive grasp of the good old 
methods. The American commanders were fully alive 
to the truth of the famous proverb which passes as the 
last word of military wisdom, though it is not certain to 
which of the world's great warriors the original inven- 
tion of it should be attributed. They knew that, in 
order to make omelettes, eggs must be broken ; and 
that a captain cannot hope to bring his adversary's ship 
into port unless he will run the risk of losing his own. 
A rapid series of successes, chequered by disaster, formed 
a worthy commencement to the history of a navy which 
has always done an amount of fighting quite extraordi- 
nary in proportion to the national money that has been 
spent upon it. The public in London, when it cared to 
visit the Admiralty, was very soon treated to a look at a 
captured pine-tree flag ; and, on the other hand, Manly 
alone, to say nothing of his consorts, in the course of 
four months intercepted stores sufficient to have vict- 
ualled his squadron many times over, and almost enough 
liquor to float his little flagship. A vessel laden with a 
hundred butts of porter ; a brigantine whose cargo in- 
cluded a hundred and thirty-nine hogsheads of rum, and 
a hundred cases of right Geneva ; a sloop with Indian 


corn, potatoes, and oats ; two Whitehaven ships with 
coal and potatoes ; two large merchantmen carrying 
provisions for the British garrison, — these were sonic, 
and by no means the most valuable, of the Commo- 
dore's prizes. 

When the condition of the besieged troops became 
known in England, the Ministry endeavoured to supply 
their wants by means of a profuse expenditure. Five 
thousand oxen, (so it was computed by a very well-in- 
formed writer,) fourteen thousand of the largest and 
fattest sheep, and a huge consignment of hogs were 
purchased, and sent out alive. Vegetables of all kinds 
were cured by a new process, and stowed away in the 
holds. Five thousand chaldrons of coal were shipped, 
along with the very faggots required to kindle them ; 
oats, beans, and hay for the horses ; and near half a 
million of money in Spanish and Portuguese coinage. 
The employment given in many and diverse quarters by 
this feverish activity; the shares in lucrative contracts 
allotted to men of rank and fashion, ignorant of busi- 
ness, who had never before in their lives sold anything 
except their votes in Parliament ; the fervent, and ex- 
pectant, gratitude of brewers who supplied ten thousand 
butts of strong beer, and of merchants who provided 
shipping at a fourth above the usual rate for tonnage ; 
— all these circumstances added political strength to 
the Government. But at that point the public advan- 
tage stopped. The transports sailed too late in the 
season, and contrary gales kept them long near our 
own shores. The preserved vegetables fermented and 
were thrown overboard. The waves were so tempestu- 
ous that the greater part of the animals perished, and 
the tides carried their carcasses in thousands up and 
down the Channel. As the vessels neared their desti- 
nation, the periodical winds set in and blew full in their 
teeth. Some were driven off to the West Indian 
Islands. Others drifted towards the American coasts, 
and were boarded and plundered in the creeks to which 
they resorted for shelter. Those which survived, after 


beating the seas for three or four months, found them- 
selves, with leaking sides and rotten cordage, on the 
cruising ground of a hostile navy the first notice of 
whose existence reached them through a shot fired 
across their own bows. Time, and no very long time, 
had brought about the due revenges ; and Boston had 
become a closed port in a sense which Parliament never 
contemplated or intended. 1 

The supineness of the British naval commanders 
during the first period of the war was less detrimental 
to the royal cause than their occasional ebullitions of 
sinister energy. On the fifteenth of October, 1775, 
George the Third assured Lord North, in a sentence 
never yet forgotten beyond the Atlantic, that he would 
concur in any plan which could be devised with the 
object of " distressing America." A week afterwards 
a despatch went from Downing Street recommending 
that the rebels should be annoyed by sudden and un- 
expected attacks of their seaboard towns during the 
winter ; and directing the total destruction of any place, 
large or small, in which the people assembled in arms, 
or held meetings of committees or congresses. Charles 
the First, who has sometimes been called a tyrant, but 
who fought his civil war as became an English King, 
would on these grounds have been justified in utterly 
demolishing Bristol and Leicester, and, (if he once could 
have got inside them,) Norwich, Gloucester, Cambridge, 
and London itself. 

Already something had been done in anticipation of 
the Ministerial policy. On the middle day of October 
Captain Mowatt had sailed into the port of Falmouth, 
in that part of Massachusetts which afterwards became 
the state of Maine, and had poured a shower of gre- 
nades and shells upon the unprotected streets of the little 
community. Some wooden houses were soon in a blaze, 
and Marines were landed to prevent the fire from being 
extinguished. The church, the public buildings, and 
three-fourths of the dwellings perished ; all the vessels 

1 Annual Register for 1776 ; chapter ii. of the History of Europe. 


in the harbour were sunk or carried off ; and the inhab- 
itants were left, homeless and without the means of 
escape, to the approaching rigours of a Northern win- 
ter in that remote, and, (when the sea was blockaded,) 
all but inaccessible region. The members of the Conti- 
nental Congress were then waiting for a reply to the 
Address in which they had appealed to the King to 
stand their friend, in spite of the prejudice and ani- 
mosity entertained by Parliament against his subjects 
in America. The tidings from Falmouth reached Phila- 
delphia on the same day as the news that the British 
Government was raising an army of German merce- 
naries to be employed against the revolted colonies. 
These two pieces of intelligence, by their simultaneous 
effect, killed outright all hope, or even desire, of recon- 
ciliation. " Brother rebel," said a Southern delegate to 
one of his New England colleagues, " I am ready to 
declare ourselves independent. We have now got a 
sufficient answer to our petition." 

The doom of Falmouth was a foretaste of what the 
Northern colonies had to expect ; and the lesson was 
next taught in another quarter. Norfolk, at the mouth 
of the James River, had for many years been the seat of 
a brisk, and mutually profitable, trade with the West 
of Scotland in the staple commodity of Virginia. Near 
sixty thousand hogsheads of tobacco were annually 
brought into the Clyde ; and most of them were shipped 
from the estuary of the James. The town was largely 
owned by merchants whose warehouses lined Virginia 
Street in Glasgow. Their clerks and factors formed 
that part of the population of Norfolk which was most 
in evidence ; especially since the troubles began, and 
the partisans of the Revolution had retired into the 
interior of the country. These good Scotchmen, if left 
to themselves, would have lived peaceably. When 
forced to show colours, they very tardily took up arms 
for the Crown, and formed themselves into a Loyal 
Militia. Before long, a force of native Virginians came 
down from the upper districts, and re-entered Norfolk 


after a sharp encounter with a small garrison of regu- 
lars. The Loyal Militia, who during the action had con- 
trived to post themselves where the fighting was not, 
sought refuge among the ships of a squadron which lay 
in the river, with Lord Dunmore, the Governor of the 
province, on board. That nobleman, and the captain of 
the largest man of war, laid their heads together over 
the paper of Instructions which had been issued by the 
Government at home. They came to the conclusion 
that Norfolk was " a town in actual rebellion, accessible 
to the King's ships," and that they had no choice 
except to carry out the King's order. Accordingly on 
the afternoon of New Year's day, 1776, the bombard- 
ment commenced. The pinewood structures, coated 
with paint, were soon alight ; and, favoured by the wind, 
the conflagration spread fast. Wherever the Ameri- 
cans were not on the look-out, a boat's crew pushed off, 
and set a match to the sheds where the Scotch factors 
kept their stores of an article which they intended 
eventually to be burned, but not by so wholesale and 
unremunerative a process. Sixty cannon, deliberately 
trained upon the points where the flames were advanc- 
ing, defeated every effort to save the town ; and the 
fire raged until four-fifths of the houses were in ashes. 

That lamentable occurrence stirred the calm temper 
of the most famous of Virginians, and animated his pre- 
cise and severe style ; for the Commander-in-Chief of 
the American army wrote from his headquarters at 
Cambridge that a few more of such flaming arguments 
as those which were exhibited at Falmouth and Norfolk 
would secure a majority in favour of a separation be- 
tween England and her colonies. Franklin, when 
Charlestown was shelled and destroyed, had pronounced 
himself unable to discern how such proceedings could 
favourably affect those commercial claims on the part 
of the mother-country which had been the ostensible 
origin of the war. " Britain," he said, " must certainly 
be distracted. No tradesman out of Bedlam ever 
thought of increasing the numbers of his customers by 


knocking them on the head, or of enabling them to pay 
their debts by burning their houses." This specimen of 
Franklin's habitual humour was fraught with as grim a 
purpose as that which inspired Washington's unwonted 
rhetoric. The glare thrown upon the future by these 
acts of official arson lighted them both to the same con- 
clusion. " It has been with difficulty," Franklin wrote, 
" that we have carried another humble Petition to the 
Crown, to give Britain one more chance of recovering 
the friendship of the colonies : which however she has 
not sense enough to embrace ; and so she has lost them 
for ever." 


washington. dorchester heights. the refugees. 
howe's retirement from boston 

Washington, meanwhile, was struggling against diffi- 
culties, less hopeless indeed than those which beset the 
British General, but of a character more unusual in 
modern warfare, and demanding more exceptional quali- 
ties in the man whose duty it was to deal with them. 
The royal garrison was dwindling from disease and pri- 
vation ; but it seemed as if the American army would 
melt away of itself. Within a week after Bunker's Hill 
there were many honest militiamen who thought it an 
eminently suitable occasion to go back to their farms, 
and get in the hay, and possibly the corn, before the next 
battle. One captain appears to have been left with a 
single file of soldiers. During the last ten days of June 
the Massachusetts Committee of Safety informed the 
Selectmen of Bradford that "the whole of a company 
of fifty men, save two, have scandalously deserted the 
cause of their country, and stained their own honour by 
leaving the camp, and returning home." The circum- 
stances under which the troops had originally assembled 
in that camp were such as to render it unlikely that 
they would be induced to remain there through the 
winter. They had turned out on the morning of Lex- 
ington to try their weapons against the British, and to 
run their chance of getting a bullet back ; but the idea 
had never crossed the minds of most of them that they 
were mortgaging their services for a whole campaign, 
and still less for an interminable war. They had taken 
up arms for liberty ; and it was a poor beginning, as fai 
as their own share of that blessing was concerned, to 



find themselves converted from free citizens into the 
rank and file of a standing army before their leave had 
been asked, and without a single shilling of bounty. A 
British recruit entered on the military career with a 
handsome sum in his pocket, however short a time it 
might remain in that receptacle. Even a Hessian, when 
he put on the red-coat, had the satisfaction of reflecting 
that his beloved Landgrave was the richer by seven 
guineas a head for himself and each of his comrades; 
but the American minute-man had nothing but his ra- 
tion, and a suit of clothes made of wool which his sis- 
ters had spun. It was no wonder that an invitation 
to subscribe the Articles of War, as laid down by the 
Continental Congress, met with scanty response. Both 
officers and men preferred to keep within the terms 
under which they had enlisted in the military establish- 
ments of their several Provinces. The regiments of 
Connecticut and Rhode Island stood engaged up to the 
first of December, and for not a day longer ; and no one 
portion of the entire force was bound to serve into the 
coming year. On the first of January, 1776, everybody 
was free to go ; and the lines, which required fifteen 
thousand men to defend them, would thenceforward be 
manned by a handful of such volunteers as did not care to 
survive their cause, and were ashamed to abandon their 

Washington had been born and trained for precisely 
such a crisis. He had an aversion to arbitrary methods, 
a keen sense of what was due to others, and a quiet but 
comprehensive sympathy with their feelings. He knew 
that his countrymen did not love to be bullied, and were 
the worst people in the world to entrap or to overreach. 
It was in vain, (he said,) to attempt to reason away the 
prejudices of a whole army. 1 Instead of trying to force 
the Articles of War on a reluctant and, in some cases, 
a vigorously recalcitrant militia, he resolved to form a 
regular establishment composed of men who had ac- 
cepted those Articles by choice, and with their eyes 

1 Washington to the President of Congress ; Sept. 21, 1775. 


open. A Committee of Congress three in number, of 
whom Franklin was one, repaired to Cambridge in order 
to confer with delegates chosen by the New England 
colonies. They found Washington ready with a scheme 
for raising twenty-six regiments, of soldiers who should 
engage themselves for a twelvemonth certain. He 
asked for twenty thousand infantry ; and the repre- 
sentatives of New England assured him that he might 
draw thirty thousand from the Northern provinces alone. 
It was a striking instance of that too sanguine Ameri- 
can temper which the delays and rebuffs of war con- 
vert, not into disgust or despair, but into patience and 
perseverance, and an unalterable determination to win. 
The enrolment of the new force began in the last week 
of October. At first the results were most discourag- 
ing. No privates would enlist in any corps until they 
knew the names of the whole regimental hierarchy 
from the colonel downwards ; and, when it came to the 
distribution of commissions, the aspirants were exceed- 
ingly difficult to please. Where an officer was too 
patriotic to be exacting, his colony was jealous for him. 
At one time Washington expected that half of his cap- 
tains and lieutenants would leave him. His confidential 
letters were couched in scathing terms. " Such a 
dearth of public spirit," he wrote, " and such want of 
virtue; such stock-jobbing, and fertility in all the low 
arts to obtain advantages of one kind or another in this 
great change of military arrangement, I never saw 
before, and I pray God's mercy that I may never see 
again." In that atmosphere of intrigue recruiting was 
sometimes at a standstill, and then for a while moved 
slowly on. The call of duty, and the hope of distinc- 
tion, were there for whatever they were worth in each 
man's estimation ; but, over and above those induce- 
ments, the temptations which the Continental Treasury 
was able to hold forth were pitifully, and almost patheti- 
cally, small. The donative offered to the praetorian 
guards of American liberty consisted in the prospect of 
a month's pay in advance, as soon as there was anything 


in the military chest, and a promise that at some period 
in the distant future they would be allowed to buy their 
uniforms at cost price. 1 During the first three weeks, 
out of a group of eleven battalions of militia, less than a 
thousand men had given in their names. Four thou- 
sand at the most joined, in and before November ; and, 
when another month had elapsed, the whole number on 
the new establishment was still below ten thousand, of 
whom one in every ten was off home on a furlough 
which he had claimed as a condition of re-enlistment. 

That was the strength of the new army at the end 
of the year ; and by that date the old army had been 
dissolved. " We have found it," said Washington, " as 
practicable to stop a torrent as these people, when their 
time is up;" and, even before their time was up, the 
rank and file of the Connecticut Militia, when they 
ascertained that a bounty was not forthcoming, planned 
to march away in a body. That purpose was defeated 
by the firmness of the General, and the exertions of 
their own officers, and not least by a spirited and well- 
timed sermon from the military chaplain of the colony ; 
but no amount of exhortation or supervision could pre- 
vent many of the privates belonging to the corps from 
deserting singly, or in small parties. Washington 
showed a tranquil countenance to the outside world ; 
but beneath the seal of a letter he begged his most in- 
timate correspondent to imagine, since he himself was 
unwilling to describe, the situation of his mind during 
that trying interval. It was no light burden, (so he 
assured his friend,) to maintain a post against the flower 

1 A General Order of October 28, 1775, (quoted by Mr. Frothinghamin 
his Siege of Boston?) recommended to the non-commissioned officers and 
soldiers at next pay day to procure themselves underclothing, and not 
coats and waistcoats, as it was intended that the new army should be 
dressed in uniform. "To effect which the Congress will lay in goods upon 
the best terms they can be bought anywhere for ready money, and will 
sell them to the soldiers without any profit ; by which means a uniform 
will come cheaper to them than any other clothing that can be bought. 
A number of tailors will be immediately set to work to make regimentals 
for those brave men who are willing at all hazards to defend their invalu- 
able rights and privileges." 


of the British troops for six months together, and then 
to have one army disbanded, and another to be raised, 
in the presence of the enemy. " Search," he wrote, 
" the volumes of history through, and I much question 
whether a case similiar to ours is to be found." : 

The depletion of his ranks was only one, and not 
the most painful, of Washington's manifold perplexities. 
He was engaged on a siege, and the whole camp did not 
furnish him with a single engineer. With no money in 
hand he was making an army at a distance of three 
hundred miles by road from the seat of government, and 
the treasury ; and, in spite of his eager remonstrances, 
no regular system of communication had as yet 
been established between Cambridge and Philadelphia. 
Except plenty to eat, his troops had little or nothing 
that soldiers wanted. Winter was coming on fast, and 
they were not provided with blankets or firewood. The 
Pennsylvanian mechanics, who were to have turned out 
muskets at the rate of eight or nine thousand a month, 
fell very far short of the anticipations which ardent 
patriots had formed in the hopeful days before muskets 
had begun to be fired. A sentry in the trenches still 
shouldered the fowling piece which he had taken down 
from above the mantel-shelf on the morning of Lexing- 
ton. Privates who left for home on furlough, and still 
more those who went away for good, could not bear to 
be parted from their guns. The military authorities at 
Cambridge would gladly have bought in those guns on 
credit; but they were not in a position to use compul- 
sion against men who still had owing to them the whole 
of the pay which they had earned. New recruits for 
the most part came in without arms ; and, while the 
regiments were as yet only half complete, there were 
not a hundred muskets in store. 

The moment seemed close at hand when it would no 

longer matter whether the soldier carried a gun or a 

pitchfork. On the third of August account was taken 

of the stock of ammunition ; and the magazine was so 

1 Washington to Reed ; Cambridge, Jan. 4, 1776. 


bare that Washington wrote off at once to beg for pow- 
der from the neighbouring colonies, assuring them that 
no quantity, however small, would be beneath notice. 
Three weeks afterwards he detected a mistake in the 
return, and pronounced the situation nothing short of 
terrible. He had reckoned, he said, upon three hundred 
quarter casks, and had but thirty-two barrels. The rains 
had been heavy and continuous, and the cartridges 
which had already been served out were spoiling in the 
pouches. From that time forwards, under whatever 
provocation, the American batteries were silent ; and 
the powder was reserved for firing musket balls at pis- 
tol distance in an emergency which nothing could post- 
pone if once the plight of the besiegers became known 
to the British General. 1 Under these circumstances 
clever men, who had seen something of warfare, began 
to discuss the advisability of having recourse to very 
primitive instruments of destruction. General Charles 
Lee wrote to Franklin in favour of enlisting pikemen, 
and received a reply urging him not to despise even 
bows and arrows. Franklin's arguments in favour of 
that form of artillery are excellent reading, and on paper 
unanswerable ; but Washington was proof against them. 
Bows and arrows were used with effect on the side 
of the besiegers by some Indian warriors, who had been 
trained into Christians and agriculturists at Dartmouth 
College without having forgotten how to lay an ambush ; 
but it is not on record that any pale-face went into bat- 
tle armed with a weapon more antiquated than his grand- 
father's firelock. Pikes, indeed, which had not gone 
altogether out of fashion among European military 
theorists, were manufactured by hundreds with a view 
to tide the American cause over that period of destitu- 
tion in all the articles that made up the equipment of a 
soldier. 2 It was a cruel time for George Washington. 

1 Washington to the President of Congress, II November, 1775 ; and 
the retrospective letter of March 31, 1776. 

2 " The people employed to make spears are desired by the general to 
make them thirteen feet in length, and the wood part a good deal more 

vol. 1. 2A 


" The reflection," he wrote, " on my situation, and that 
of this army, produces many an unhappy hour when all 
around me are wrapt in sleep. I have often thought 
how much happier I should have been if I had taken a 
musket on my shoulder, and entered the ranks ; or, (if I 
could have justified the measure to posterity and my 
own conscience,) had retired to the back-country, and 
lived in a wigwam." 

In this mood, and in such straits, he was tasting the 
full bitterness of the treatment which every great com- 
mander, other than an absolute sovereign, is in his first 
campaign called upon to endure. Patriots, all the con- 
tinent over, were wondering and questioning why Boston 
had not long ago been stormed ; and the mouth of the 
one man who could tell them the reason was closed in 
public by considerations of which, in his familiar corre- 
spondence, he made no secret. " I cannot stand justified 
to the world," so Washington wrote, "without exposing 
my own weakness, and injuring the cause by declaring 
my wants, which I am determined not to do, farther 
than unavoidable necessity brings every man acquainted 
with them. If I did not consult the public good more 
than my own tranquillity, I should long ere this have put 
everything on the cast of a die." The chimney-corner 
heroes, as he styled them, urged him to begin by recapt- 
uring Charlestown. But long before Christmas Bunker's 
Hill was an Ehrenbreitstein, or a Gibraltar, by compari- 
son with what it had been in the month of June. Ac- 
cording to Washington's own description it was, both in 
rear and in front, "by odds the strongest fortress" of 
the British ; which one thousand men, made of the stuff 

substantial than those already made. Those in the New Hampshire lines 
are ridiculously short and light." — American Archives, July 23, 1775. 
In an early General Order Washington desired that pikes should be kept 
clean and greased. 

Major-General Lloyd served several campaigns against Frederic the 
Great, and, (a matter more arduous still,) succeeded in pleasing Mr. Car- 
lyle, who pronounced him a writer of great natural sagacity. Lloyd, in 
that section of his History of the Seven Years' War which treats of the 
Ordering of a Modern Army, recommended that one infantry soldier, out 
of every four, should have a pike in place of a musket. 


that was behind those ramparts, could keep against any 
twenty thousand. And in the American camp there 
were not half that number, all told, under arms; — if 
such an expression could be fairly applied to troops who 
had nothing with which to load their cannon, and whom 
the first half-hour's fight would leave without a cartridge 
for their muskets. 

Criticism was severe upon Washington in Congress, 
in the newspapers, and above all in the taverns ; but he 
already had secured the confidence and the loyalty of 
those who immediately surrounded his person. On the 
eighteenth of October he summoned his major-generals 
and brigadiers to a conference. The delegates from 
Philadelphia, who answered pretty closely to the cele- 
brated Representatives on Mission to the Armies during 
the early wars of the French Revolution, had invited 
Washington to say why an assault should not forthwith 
be ordered. His own decision had been made ; and he 
was well able to express it, and to stand by it. And yet, 
for the satisfaction of his employers, he was not sorry 
to fortify that decision by the concurrence, (if such could 
be obtained,) of his ardent and, in some cases, very capa- 
ble subordinates. Charles Lee would not commit him- 
self to the support of one whom he had the presumption 
to regard as an overrated rival, and spoke in guarded 
phrases, like a man not sufficiently behind the scenes to 
judge. But Ward, Greene, and Putnam, and their other 
colleagues, one and all, roundly declared that an attack 
on Boston by open force, until things changed greatly 
for the better, could not even be contemplated as a prac- 
ticable operation. Washington, in addition to every- 
thing else, had his special troubles with the provincial 
assemblies ; whose good-will, in an army composed like 
his, imported at least as much to him as that of the cen- 
tral government. Massachusetts and Connecticut had 
desired him to send them back strong detachments from 
their own militia regiments in order to protect the towns 
on their coasts from the armed vessels of the enemy. 
To this requisition the Commander-in-Chief replied that 

2A 2 


the threatened districts would have to take measures for 
defending themselves ; and that, if it came to the worst, 
they must patiently endure calamities against which he 
could not effectually guard them without sacrificing the 
general interests of the cause. 1 He quietly but explicitly 
gave it to be understood that not a man could be spared 
from that neighbourhood where the great game was 
being played out which would fix the fate, not of Boston 
only, but of every fishing hamlet along the seaboard of 
all the colonies. 

His constancy was rewarded. At last he began to 
reap the advantage which accrues to a strategist who, 
amidst perils and anxieties the full extent of which is 
known only to himself, steadfastly maintains at least 
the appearance of an aggressive attitude. New England 
felt proud of having an army which could keep the field. 
The spirit of her people was high and buoyant, and they 
were ready to perform their duty, when that duty was 
told them by a man whom they believed. To fill the 
gaps in his line, while recruitment for the Continental 
army was in progress, Washington invited Massachu- 
setts and New Hampshire to call out five thousand min- 
ute-men on temporary service. They came in great 
numbers, and their behaviour in camp left nothing to 
be desired. It soon was evident that the action of the 
Connecticut militia was not to the taste of their fellow- 
citizens. The men, as they straggled home in twos and 
threes, met with a reception which convinced them that, 
unless they returned straight away to their regiment 
before the public opinion of their village took shape in 
action, they would have to travel at least the first stage 
of their journey to Cambridge by a mode of conveyance 
neither easy nor dignified, and in a costume not unsuited 
to people who had chosen to display the white feather. 
The next time that the battalion was paraded, and the 
roll called, only eighty of the delinquents were missing. 

1 Washington to the Speaker of the General Assembly of Massachusetts 
Bay; 31 July, 1775. 


But the gallant colony, after having played so vigorous 
a part in the scenes of political disturbance which ush- 
ered in the war, was not now contented with seeing that 
a parcel of unwilling soldiers were sent back to their 
quarters. A touch of shame and compunction, at the 
thought of the vexation inflicted by her unworthy sons 
on their uncomplaining General, gave such an impulse 
to the patriotism of Connecticut that the force which 
she contributed to Washington's army, from that moment 
onwards, and throughout the whole course of the strug- 
gle, exceeded the contingent furnished by any province, 
except Massachusetts only. 1 The alacrity of the New 
Hampshire minute-men, and the splendid repentance of 
Connecticut, afforded examples which were not wasted. 
The tide had turned, and ran in fast. Companies filled 
up with recruits. Older soldiers came promptly from 
furlough. By the middle of February, 1776, Washington 
reckoned his strength at the full number of seventeen 
thousand fighting men ; and the best intelligence which 
he could obtain from inside Boston led him to conjecture 
that the losses and privations of the siege had reduced 
the British to a little over five thousand effective infantry. 
The informants on whom the General relied had put 
the hostile force at too low a figure ; but for them, and 
for him as well, it was the hour of hope. He had worked 
and waited long with less than no encouragement ; and 
now everything seemed to be on the mend at once. 
The first gleam of success had been the capture of the 
Nancy, a royal ordnance brig which Captain Manly 
brought into shore at Cape Ann, the northern point of 
Massachusetts Bay. Washington, who knew the value 
of the prize better than did the British admiral, hurried 
off a strong party of minute-men to protect the unlading 
of her cargo. It was well worth the trouble ; for among 
the items were two thousand muskets, a hundred thou- 

1 In 1776 Massachusetts sent 13,372 men to the army, Connecticut 
6,390, Virginia 6,181, and Pennsylvania 5,519. During the remaining years 
of the war Massachusetts sent 38,091, Connecticut 21,142, Virginia 20,491, 
and Pennsylvania 19,689. 


sand flints, thirty thousand round-shot, and thirty tons 
of bullets. When the trophies arrived in camp the most 
popular, if not the most useful, was a monster mortar, 
which Putnam, amidst universal hilarity, baptized with 
a bottle of rum ; but which enjoyed a very short life 
under its new name of the " Congress." 1 There was 
no fear that the old General would be accused of wast- 
ing good liquor, for immense and increasing abundance 
reigned throughout the cantonments. The only differ- 
ence in the ration, as months went on, was that the 
men got another half-pound of meat daily, and that 
their allowance of vegetables was doubled. Means had 
been discovered to remedy the scarcity of fuel ; and the 
soldiers secured enough of the illimitable forests that 
clothed the land to cook their generous meals, and to keep 
them warm in weather which, even under less comforta- 
ble circumstances, would have had no great terrors for 
a New Englander. For the winter, which had promised 
badly, became first endurable, and then unusually mild. 
" The Bay is open," a colonial officer wrote in January. 
" Everything thaws here, except old Put. He is still as 
hard as ever, crying out for powder, powder, ye Gods give 
us powder ! " And at last the powder came. Washing- 
ton, who would stoop and traffic for nothing else, had 
begged, bought, or borrowed a modest but well-hus- 
banded stock of that precious commodity ; and, in the 
very same letter which recommended the use of bows 
and arrows, Franklin reported the welcome intelligence 
that the Secret Committee of Congress, appointed to 
provide the material of war, — a Committee of which he 
himself was the life and soul, — had contrived to lay its 
hands on a hundred and fifty tons of saltpetre. 

Whether the supply of powder in the Cambridge 
magazine was small or large, the news from England 
was of a nature to make it go off of itself. On the first 
of January, 1776, a flag of thirteen stripes, one for each 
colony, was hoisted for the first time over the American 

1 " Our people splet the Congress the third time that they fired it." 
How's Diary ; March 4, 1776. 


headquarters ; and on the same day copies of the speech 
made by the King at the opening of Parliament were 
distributed broadcast among the besiegers by the ex- 
ertions of the Boston Tories. Those gentlemen antici- 
pated that the august document would strike panic, 
and implant penitence, in the hardiest breast ; but the 
blockade had already endured long enough for them to 
have lost touch with the mass of their countrymen. 
They were woefully out in their calculations. " We 
are favoured," wrote Washington, "with a sight of his 
Majesty's most gracious speech, breathing sentiments of 
tenderness and compassion for his deluded American 
subjects. We now know the ultimatum of British 
justice." The tone of the royal manifesto was haughty 
and confident ; the threats were formidable ; and the 
Ministry was labouring with zeal, and spending with 
prodigality, in order to make those menaces good. 

Ordinary men, whether in their own corner of a 
battle, or from their particular post in the wider opera- 
tions of a war, discern that which is immediately to the 
front of them, and do not trouble themselves about what 
is in the distance or the future. The Americans who, 
from Prospect Hill and Roxbury Fort, saw Howe and 
his regiments cooped up within an acreage which would 
not support the dignity of a small British squire, laughed 
at King George's assurances that a speedy retribution 
was to fall " on the author and promoters of a desperate 
conspiracy." Horace Walpole descanted to his friend 
Mason on the absurdity of the idea that the Congress 
at Philadelphia would be so frightened at the British 
army being besieged in Boston that it would sue for 
peace. The thought which struck a man of letters, 
writing in his study at Twickenham, was still more 
forcibly brought home to a Continental soldier, already 
something of a veteran, as he stood behind the parapet 
of an impregnable redoubt, and fingered the lock of a 
new Tower musket which was his share in the spoils of 
the store-ship Nancy. The conclusion at which Walpole 
arrived by intuition, Franklin reached by a process of 


reckoning. " Britain," he said, "at the expense of three 
millions has killed one hundred and fifty Yankees this 
campaign, which is twenty thousand pounds a head ; 
and at Bunker's Hill she gained a mile of ground, half 
of which she lost again by our taking post on Ploughed 
Hill. During the same time sixty thousand children 
have been born in America." From these data, (the 
Doctor argued,) a mathematical head might easily com- 
pute the time and expense necessary to kill all American 
rebels, and to conquer their whole territory. 

Congress had already voted a Resolution which reads 
like a decree of the Roman Senate in the sternest days 
of the Republic. It was to the effect that, if General 
Washington and his council should be of opinion that he 
could make a successful attack on the troops in Boston, 
the attack should be made, notwithstanding that the 
town, and the property in it, might thereby be destroyed. 
The President of the assembly, who had large posses- 
sions in the devoted city, communicated the Resolution 
to the General, and added on his own part a prayer that 
God would crown the undertaking with victory. Half 
way through February, when a spell of hard weather 
came, and the channels between the town and the main- 
land were choked with ice, Washington was ready, and 
even persuaded himself that he was eager, to assault the 
British lines. But his military advisers were almost 
unanimous in the opposite sense. They warned the 
Commander-in-Chief that he greatly underestimated 
the strength of the garrison ; and a very recent event 
had indicated what would be the chances of an advance 
in broad daylight, across an ice-field swept by grape, 
against works held by British infantry, and plenty of 
it. The patriots had already made an attempt upon 
Canada. An American storming party had assaulted 
Quebec in the darkest hour of the last night of the old 
year, 1775. The enterprise was a complete and costly 
failure, though it had been heroically led by Richard 
Montgomery, who was killed, and by Benedict Arnold, 
who was badly wounded, but, for his misfortune, was 


borne away alive. The slaughter and discomfiture which 
marked the operation against Quebec would in all human 
probability be repeated at Boston on a far larger scale, 
and with most damaging consequences to the cause of 
the Revolution. Congress might be willing to sacrifice 
Boston ; but the generals of the only army which Con- 
gress had would not expend their people without reason- 
able hope of an adequate return. As men of tried and 
admitted courage, they had no qualms about speaking 
out on the side of caution ; and their sturdy frankness 
did Washington a service which he himself before long 
came very near to acknowledging. When he had slept 
twice on their counsel, with such sleep as during that 
winter visited his pillow, he allowed that the intolerable 
irksomeness of his personal situation might possibly 
have inclined him to put more to the hazard than pru- 
dence would have sanctioned. 1 

He had refused to move forward at the dictation of 
public clamour; and he had been restrained by those 
around him from obeying the momentary promptings 
of his own impatience. At length he took action, at 
the due time, and in the right way. General Howe had 
arrived at the conclusion that Boston was useless as a 
base of operations against the continent of America, 
and most assuredly could not be regarded in the light 
of desirable quarters for the ensuing summer. Fully 
intending sooner or later to evacuate the city, he had 
preferred to wait for additional transports, a fresh sup- 
ply of provisions, and a season more suited to a voyage 
which at the best would be uncomfortable and distress- 
ing, and fearfully dangerous in a gale. It was no light 
matter to conduct along four hundred miles of hostile 
coast, in the northern seas, a fleet into which would be 
crowded a whole army, the staff of a civil government, 
and all the Loyalists of a great province, together with 
their families and furniture. Some Whigs inside Boston, 
always quick to detect any symptoms favourable to their 
cause, apprised the American commander that the Brit- 

1 Washington to the President of Congress; 18 Feb., 1776. 


ish garrison would not be long with them ; and his 
telescope confirmed the story. Heavy cannon were 
seen to be withdrawn from the fortifications, and carried 
on board the ships. The square-rigged vessels in the 
harbour had been taken into the royal service ; their 
sails were bent, and their water-casks sent ashore to be 
filled. All this show, Washington opined, might only be 
a feint ; 2 and he resolved to make sure that it should 
become a reality. He devised a scheme which would 
oblige the British either to surrender the capital of Mas- 
sachusetts, or come forth and attack him on his own 
ground with no probability of success, and all but the 
certainty of a frightful disaster. But at one end of the 
city or the other, in fair weather or in foul, with or 
without bloodshed, from Boston he was determined that 
they should go. 

Howe reposed in the belief that he might choose his 
own moment for the step which he had in contempla- 
tion. An attempt from the rebels, (he informed Lord 
Dartmouth,) whether by surprise or otherwise, was not 
in the least to be apprehended. Nothing, he said, was 
so much to be wished as that they would have the rash- 
ness to quit those strong intrenchments to which alone 
chey owed their safety, Howe was so far in the right 
that for either Washington, or himself, to assault was to 
court defeat ; inasmuch as the English and the Ameri- 
can positions were equally strong, and manned by troops 
who, when fighting under cover, were equally good. 
But, where two armies are so situated that the defence is 
more formidable than the attack, special attention must 
be paid to any commanding post which one or another 
of the parties can seize and fortify without a contest. 
Just such a post was the promontory of Dorchester, 
which covered and dominated Boston on the South. 
Two miles long, and two-thirds of a mile broad, it was 
dotted with heights of sufficient elevation for military 
purposes, planted exactly where they were most useful 
to the besiegers. A battery placed on the Eastern 

1 Washington to Major-General Lee; Cambridge, 26 Feb., 1776. 


extremity would carry its shot across the deep-water 
approach to the harbour ; and a batter)- on the Western 
horn could annihilate the town. 

Howe had neglected to secure the peninsula; and he 
was not without his excuse. The ground, open on the 
quarter towards the enemy, required a larger force to 
hold it than he could spare from his widely extended 
and ever-threatened lines. lie had no hope of being 
reinforced from across the ocean. Lord Harrington, in 
January 1776, laid a paper before the King stating that 
the strength of the army at home fell short of fourteen 
thousand, counting in the officers, who in the higher 
grades were in prodigious excess with reference to the 
men. " North Britain," he wrote, " never was so bare, 
having only one battalion of foot, and one regiment of 
dragoons, besides invalids." Such scanty detachments 
as were sent sailed months behind time, in bad ships, for 
the worst of reasons. Frederic the Great did not pro- 
fess an intimate acquaintance with naval matters ; and 
indeed his solitary experience of navigation had been an 
inland voyage in a Dutch canal-boat ; but he understood 
as thoroughly as any man in Christendom that reinforce- 
ments should be brought on to the field before the 
event, instead of after it. He learned with astonish- 
ment from his envoy in London that, at a crisis when 
every day was of consequence, men of war were not em- 
ployed for the conveyance of troops because people 
high in place would not surrender their commission of 
three per cent, on the hire of trading vessels. 1 

Bad as it was, that was not the worst of the story. In 
the course of January, General Clinton, under express 
orders from home, started for the Carolinas with a detach- 
ment which was withdrawn from the already inadequate 
garrison of Boston. Lord Barrington was opposed to 
the expedition ; but his dislike of the project had been 
overborne by other Ministers who, because inside the 
Cabinet they were ruder fighters than the Secretary at 

1 Le Roi Frederic au Comte de Maltzan; Potsdam, 8 Avril, 1776. Le 
Comte de Maltzan au Roi Frederic; Londres, 23 Avril, 1776. 


War, thought themselves sounder judges of a military 
operation. The unhappy nobleman, who was supposed 
to wield the sword of England, surrendered his view the 
more easily because the raid on the Southern colonies of 
America soon became a pet scheme of his royal master. 
The King himself, with his customary minuteness and 
precision, named the regiments which were to sail from 
the Home ports; and his zeal was so great that, while 
the army in Ireland had been reduced too low for safety, 
and Scotland had been stripped almost bare, only three 
battalions of regular infantry remained available for the 
protection of the whole of England. Clinton was joined 
off Charleston by Lord Cornwallis, who brought at least 
two thousand more soldiers, and by Sir Peter Parker 
with some fifty-gun-ships and frigates. But the force 
which, if it had been left with Howe, might have en- 
abled him to hold his own in New England, was all too 
weak for independent action. The outworks protecting 
the approach to Charleston were feebly attacked, and 
stoutly defended ; and the affair resulted in a failure 
for Clinton, and in nothing short of a calamity for 
Parker and his squadron. 

Washington, on the other hand, had men enough not 
only for the indispensable requirements, but also for the 
profitable risks, of war. There had been a deficiency 
of heavy guns ; but at last that want was supplied. Imme- 
diately after Lexington a handful of American volunteers, 
— with Benedict Arnold, and better men than he, among 
them, though braver there could not be, — captured 
Ticonderoga by a stroke of well-timed and audacious 
inspiration. Ethan Allen, who led the band, in default 
of a more regular commission under which to act, took 
possession of the place in the name of the great Jehovah 
and the Continental Congress. The fortress contained 
a great store of cannon, which had formerly been trans- 
ported into those distant wilds by Anglo-Saxon energy. 
The stock of that latter article had not run out. Colonel 
Knox, a deft and enterprising officer high in Washington's 
confidence, built sledges, and in the dead of winter hauled 


the priceless freight Southward along frozen lakes, and 
over forest roads which had been barely passable during 
the droughts of summer. When the first and worst 
stage of the journey had been overcome, and nothing 
more serious than fifty leagues of snowdrift and mire lay 
between himself and the goal towards which he was 
travelling, the Colonel gaily wrote that he hoped to pre- 
sent his Excellency with a whole train of artillery. Before 
March he handed over to his chief forty large guns, and 
half as many mortars ; and Washington in the meanwhile, 
by his own exertions, had scraped together the where- 
withal at least to open fire. He had ammunition enough 
to go once round the army ; but, when the cartridge boxes 
of the infantry were replenished, and the magazines in 
the batteries had been filled up, only a hundred barrels 
of powder remained in reserve. Other military stores had 
been provided in plenty; rude of design, although suited 
for rough and temporary work in the hands of dexterous 
and hardy men. As material for breastworks there were 
vast piles of faggots, and of grass ropes such as a pair 
of New England haymakers could twist at the rate of 
a fathom a minute. There were empty casks, to hold 
the earth from the ditches ; stacks of shovels and pick- 
axes ; and two thousand bandages for broken limbs, 
which by the grace of Heaven, or the good sense of 
man, never came to be needed. Out of sight from the 
British lines, if not from the British spies, there lay in 
Charles River two floating batteries, and barges with 
room to carry ten battalions across a stretch of smooth 
water. They had been constructed hastily and slightly, 
but by people the occupation of whose lives had taught 
them to know whether or not a boat would swim. And, 
at the last moment, the militia of all the neighbouring 
townships repaired to camp, with a pledge from Wash- 
ington that he would not keep them long, and a belief 
on their part that this time the General purposed to see 
the business through. 

They were correct in their anticipations. On those 
rare occasions when Washington had the means to 


assume the offensive, his action was as swift, as direct, 
as continuous, and, (for its special characteristic,) as un- 
expected as that of any captain in history. He had not 
fought Red Indians in his youth for nothing. But, secret 
and silent as he was in regard to the direction and the 
details of his future movements, Washington was too 
much of a citizen not to place himself in close mental 
relation with his soldiers before he called upon them for 
unusual efforts and sacrifices. On the eve of the final 
struggle he issued an appeal to the army. Except in 
its perfect suitability to the tastes and aspirations of 
those whom he addressed, it was a composition very 
unlike those bulletins by which under the Directory, 
and the First Empire, the French were incited to the 
conquest and plunder of Europe. His General Order 
of February the twenty-sixth began by forbidding offi- 
cers, non-commissioned officers, or privates to play at 
cards or other games of chance ; inasmuch as, at a time 
of distress, men might find enough to do in the service 
of God and their country without abandoning themselves 
to vice and immorality. As the season was now fast ap- 
proaching, (so the proclamation went on,) when every 
man might expect to be drawn into the field of action, it 
was highly important that he should prepare his mind 
for what lay before him. They were engaged in a 
noble cause. Freedom or slavery would be the result of 
their conduct. Every temporal advantage, to them and 
their posterity, would depend upon the vigour of their 

These words were still being quoted and commented 
on throughout the camp when they were drowned by 
the roar of cannon, but not forgotten. On the second 
of March, and again on the fourth, the American bat- 
teries commenced to play. The noise was tremendous, 
but the slaughter small. A distant bombardment, with 
the ordnance of the eighteenth century, produced few 
of the horrors of war except only to the taxpayer. Up 
to Christmas, 1775, the British garrison had discharged 
two thousand rounds, and had killed less than twenty 


of the enemy ; and the moral effect, as it is called, had 
been so much the reverse of what was intended that the 
commanding officer of artillery advised General Howe 
to discontinue the cannonade, as the only perceptible 
result was to inure the colonists to danger. In March, 
however, when Washington's cannon began to speak, 
the British gunners could not refuse the challenge. 
They replied lustily ; but they shot next to no one, and 
dismounted nothing, although the besiegers contrived to 
burst five of their own mortars. 1 

The Americans hit a regimental guard-house, which 
they could not very well miss, and not many human 
beings. Nevertheless, on their side, it was no waste of 
powder. On Monday the fourth of March the besiegers 
maintained a heavy fire far into the night. The soldiers 
in Boston were kept busy extinguishing flames, and re- 
moving goods, from beneath falling roofs ; and they had 
neither eyes nor ears for what was passing to the South- 
ward of them. Soon after dark General Thomas led a 
strong brigade over Dorchester Neck, followed by three 
hundred carts laden with fascines and coils of twisted 
hay. With these materials a parapet was rapidly built 
along the causeway, under cover of which fresh loads of 
stuff travelled to and fro throughout the night. Mean- 
while on each of the twin heights in the centre of the 
peninsula, which were the keys of the position, the 
colonial soldiers were digging, and ramming, and plas- 
tering the earth, like so many peasants of Holland 
strengthening an embankment to save their village from 

1 General Heath relates in his Diary how, on December 18, 1775, the 
Americans broke grounds on Lechmere Point, the most exposed spot in 
their lines. Their working party numbered three hundred. An expecta- 
tion prevailed that it would be "a bloody day "; and Washington person- 
ally superintended the conduct of the operation. The British batteries, 
until the afternoon, thundered away, both with shot and shell; and the 
American surgeon, who was at hand throughout, never once drew his in- 
struments from their case, or a roll of lint from his dressing-box. A plain 
man, who has fired a charge of slugs at an object in the water a hundred 
yards off, may estimate the value of a remote cannonade from old-fashioned 
twenty-four pounders, even if he has never looked into a treatise on the law 
of projectiles. 


an inundation. At dawn of day two forts were already in 
existence, and in a condition to protect their inmates 
from grape-shot and musket-balls. A British officer of 
a sentimental turn compared the result of the night's 
labour with the wonders wrought by the lamp of Alad- 
din. In less flowery, but fatally unpractical, words Gen- 
eral Howe told Lord Dartmouth that at least twelve 
thousand men must have been employed on the fortifi- 
cation. The rebels, he remarked, had done more be- 
tween evening and morning than the whole of his own 
army would have accomplished in an entire month. He 
had made an error of a thousand per cent. ; for the Ameri- 
can working party did not exceed twelve hundred pairs 
of arms. It would have been well for Howe if his pro- 
fessional education had included a course of land-survey- 
ing in company with Washington, or even of building 
fences with Putnam. The royal forces were embarked 
on a war of such a character, and in such a country, 
that the hatchet and the spade ranked high among mili- 
tary weapons. A general who knew something about 
homely industries, and their application to strategical 
purposes, would have been of great service to an army 
where guidance and teaching in that department were 
peculiarly needed. The behaviour of the British soldier 
in the labours of the trench and the field-work was his 
weakest point then, and forty years afterwards ; as was 
sorrowfully admitted by the best judges, who in other 
respects were his warm admirers. 1 

Howe was unskilled in appraising the amount which 
any given number of sappers or artificers could get 
done in a given number of hours ; but he had seen too 

1 On this subject Sir John Burgoyne, in his account of the Siege of 
Burgos, has made some observations which are most interesting, but, (even 
after this lapse of time,) not altogether agreeable reading. " I had," he 
says in the course of his remarks, " an opportunity of pointing out to Lord 
Wellington, one day, a French and an English working party, each exca- 
vating a trench. While the French shovels were going on as merrily as 
possible, we saw in an equal space, at long intervals, a single English 
shovelful make its appearance." Life and Correspondence of Eield Alar- 
shut Sir John Burgoyne, pp. 232 and 233 of the edition of 1873. 


many battles and sieges for him to have any doubt as 
to the plight in which the latest move of his adversaries 
had landed him. He was not the player to accept 
checkmate when it was first offered. Between two and 
three thousand of his infantry were at once shipped on 
transports to Castle Island, with the design that they 
should thence attack the promontory of Dorchester. 
For their commander Howe had only to choose among 
the men of headlong courage at his disposal ; and he 
chose Lord Percy, who had no objection, on his own 
account, to face whatever might await him across the 
southern arm of the harbour. The forces under Thomas 
had been doubled by a reinforcement of two thousand 
men. The works, formidable at daybreak, before noon 
had received a finishing touch. Orchards had been cut 
down to form an abattis. Rows of barrels filled with 
earth were placed along the edge of the hill, which was 
bare and steep, with the design of rolling them down 
upon the ascending columns. The Americans every- 
where seemed cheery and resolute, and those ensconced 
behind the earthworks on Dorchester Heights were even 
exhilarated. They looked forward to another battle of 
Bunker's Hill in a position twice as strong, with a force 
more than twice as large, and under the immediate eye 
of the General-in-Chief ; for Washington was on the 
spot full of fight, and, for him, full of talk, and as hope- 
ful of victory as the youngest of his followers. 

Hopeful, that is, in the quarter where he commanded 
in person ; for he was far from easy about the fate of 
the operation to which his left wing stood committed. 
Putnam had four thousand selected troops on the 
parade ground at Cambridge, ready at a signal from 
Dorchester Heights to enter the flotilla which lay in the 
river, and advance by water against the western face 
of Boston under cover of the new floating batteries. 
Washington disapproved the project ; but his judgement 
had been overridden, and it only remained for him loy- 
ally to make the best of a plan the wisdom of which he 
gravely and sadly doubted. At this period of the war 

VOL. I. 2B 


the command in chief of the American army was rathei 
a limited monarchy than the benevolent despotism into 
which it was gradually converted by the pressure of his 
strong character, and the lustre of his first great suc- 
cess. Congress began by being keenly inquisitive into 
the movements of the army, and was much too anxious 
about the event to refrain from advising, and even from 
meddling. The delegates at Philadelphia were suffi- 
ciently afraid of Washington to abstain from giving him 
a direct order. They transmitted their views to the head- 
quarters at Cambridge in the shape of proposals which 
they requested him to have debated and decided in a 
council of war. Such a council had recently been con- 
voked, in which Washington was outvoted ; and so it 
came about that the Americans were to deliver, and to 
sustain, an attack on one and the same day. That day 
was the anniversary of what was called the Boston Mas- 
sacre, and this time there would have been a massacre 
indeed. It was odds, and large odds, that neither of the 
two assaults could succeed ; and the assailants in both 
cases were of such tough fibre, and their leaders so fiery 
and determined, that failure would not have taken place 
until after a prolonged slaughter. If the fighting had 
once begun, the history of the Revolutionary war would 
have been disfigured by a more deeply crimsoned page 
than any which can now be found in the volume. 

But it was not so to be. The wind blew a gale. 
Sashes were forced in, sheds were wrecked and over- 
thrown, and vessels torn from their moorings and driven 
against the quays. Percy's transports could not cross 
the water in such a hurricane ; and, until the British 
took the initiative, Washington refused to give the sig- 
nal for Putnam's forward movement. He was blamed 
for want of firmness ; but the old officer whom he had 
superseded in the command of the army generously and 
indignantly defended one who never was at the pains 
to defend himself. The prudence of Washington, so 
General Heath declared, was applauded by military men 
of several nations after they had made an inspection of 


the land and water which was to have been the scene 
of action. And the veteran was mindful to direct his 
gratitude higher still, and to aver that Providence, kind 
not for the first time, must have interposed to save his 
countrymen when they were bent on self-destruction. 1 

The storm raged through the afternoon and night of 
the fifth of March ; and the next day the wind was still 
boisterous, and the rain came down in torrents. Before 
the weather grew calm and dry it had been brought 
home to the British General that the Americans could 
not be expelled from their redoubts, and that, so long as 
they stayed in their redoubts, they were masters of the 
whole promontory. Immediately to their front, and at 
their disposal when they thought fit to occupy it, was a 
mound known as Nook's 1 1 ill, from which, at the distance 
of half a mile, they could enfilade the British earthworks 
on Boston Neck, and would not be much further from 
Griffin's Wharf where the immortal tea was spilt. 
Admiral Shuldham, who had succeeded Graves in com- 
mand of the fleet, warned the military authorities that, if 
Washington retained his hold on the Dorchester Heights, 
he himself could not keep a ship in the harbour. When 
the prospect of a battle had vanished, the disappoint- 
ment of the British soon took the form of despondency. 
Right or wrong, the belief was general that, for the space 
of several months, no despatches had been received from 
the Government in London. It looked, (such was the 
burden of the private letters written by the garrison dur- 
ing that anxious fortnight,) as if the men in the post of 
danger, now that it was fast becoming an abode of de- 
spair, had been left to get out of a bad scrape as best 
they could. " The fleet and the army," it was said, " com- 
plain of each other, and both of the people at home." 
With that suspicion in their minds the superior officers 
repaired to a council which Howe convened, and learned 
from him, without surprise or dissatisfaction, that he 
was fully determined at whatever cost to save the 

1 Heath's Memoirs; Feb. 15th and March 5th, 1776. 

21 2 


The danger was pressing. After dark on the ninth 
of March the New Englanders were already busy on 
Nook's Hill. They laboured undiscovered and unmo- 
lested till some stupid fellows kindled a fire in rear of 
the knoll, and soon found the place even warmer than 
they wished or intended. Four of them were killed by 
one cannon-ball, and the detachment was withdrawn to 
await a more convenient opportunity. 1 But the incident 
gave Howe food for reflection. The Americans, it was 
evident, might choose their own moment for erecting 
batteries at a range within which round-shot could be 
aimed with effect at a knot of men, and much more against 
ships and houses, the tilt of a powder waggon, or the 
flank of a line of cannon planted along the curtain of a 
fortification. Next day he began to push forward his 
arrangements for the evacuation of the town ; and, wher- 
ever Howe exerted himself, he worked fast. But he 
was not quick enough to please Washington, who gave 
him a significant hint that the patience of the besiegers 
was near to exhaustion. The colonists returned to 
Nook's Hill, and crowned the eminence with a redoubt, 
from which this time they refused to be driven. That 
was the notice to quit. It was handed in on the sixteenth 
of March ; and on the seventeenth General Howe em- 
barked his army, and Washington was a figure in history. 
It was exactly the operation which, repeated half a gen- 
eration afterwards in the port of Toulon, laid the founda- 

1 In 1 899, after the first publication of this volume, the author was honoured 
by a letter from the late Mr. E. J. Phelps, who so effectively, and so acceptably 
to Londoners, discharged the office of American Ambassador at the 
Court of St. James's. " You mention," (wrote Mr. Phelps,) " that, while the 
New Englanders were engaged in fortifying Nook's Hill, ' some stupid 
fellows' kindled a fire, and soon found the place warmer than they intended ; 
and that four of them were killed by one British cannon-ball. Well ; my 
maternal grandfather, a soldier in the American army, was one of those to 
whom you allude in such complimentary terms; and he was sitting by the 
fire when the cannon-ball came in. He was not hurt; but lived to tell me 
the story in my boyhood. To that small extent I can corroborate by hear- 
say evidence the truth of your account." It is pleasant to think of the 
old fellow relating his adventures at a more secure fireside than that by 
which he sate on Nook's Hill half a century back. 


tion of a fame less desirable, and a life's work far less 
durable, than his. 1 

Unfortunately there was more than a tactical and 
topographical resemblance between the recapture of 
Toulon and the capture of Boston. Those two great 
events are marked by the same melancholy, and even 
tragic, circumstance. In both cases the retirement of a 
fleet and an army was accompanied by a wholesale and 
enforced emigration of non-combatants. The announce- 
ment that the city was to be surrendered fell as a thun- 
derbolt on the Loyalists whose home it was, and not less 
on those who had repaired thither as a place of tempo- 
rary refuge. The last trump, (so Washington wrote,) 
could not have struck them with greater consternation. 
A fixed and ardent faith in the overwhelming and omni- 
present power of Britain was the first article in the creed 
of the American Tories ; — for that term was universally 
applied to them by themselves and their fellow-colonists ; 
although, among those politicians at Westminster whom 
they had trusted and followed to their ruin, many still 
laid claim to the name of Whigs. When Howe departed 
from Boston there were eleven hundred people who 
dared not stay behind, or one for every ten of his soldiers 

1 For the two previous paragraphs see Heath 's Memoirs ; March 9, 1776. 
Washington to the President of Congress; March 7, 9, 13, and 16. Froth- 
ingham's Siege of Boston ; chapter xii. 

David How's Diary shows how a great event struck a humble contempo- 
rary, who had played a man's part in helping to bring it about. 

" March 3. Last night there was Firing Almost all night on both sides. 
Two of our mortars splet in pices at Litchmor's point. 

" March 4. Last night there was A fiering all night with cannon and 
Morters on both sides. Three Regments went from Cambridge to Rox- 
bury and carried Some Field Pieces with them. The Milisher from Several 
towns are called In to stay 3 days. 

" March 5. Our people went to Dodgster hill Last Night and built a 
fort there. They have ben firing at Dogester amost All Day. 

"March 10. Last night our people went to Dodesther neck And there 
was a hot fire from Boston which Killed 4 men with one ball. I went to 
meting all Day ; Mr. Lennard preached. 

" March 12. Last night there was brisk fireing all Night From boston. 
William Parker made me a pair of Half Boots for Two Shilling and 8d." 


and sailors. They formed the aristocracy of the prov- 
ince by virtue of their official rank ; of their dignified 
callings and professions ; of their hereditary wealth ; and 
of their culture, except so far as it partook of that self- 
education which was open to all. 

Eighteen were clergymen, for the most part Episco- 
palians, as true to what they believed to be their politi- 
cal obligations as any English Nonjuror who went out 
from his parsonage or his palace in the summer of 1689. 
Among the exiles many were landowners and substantial 
men of business, and a greater number still were public 
servants. Good places, whether lay or legal, were re- 
served for people who regarded themselves as belonging 
to good families. The same names, and those not many, 
occur over and over again as Judges of the Superior 
Court; Receivers General, and Cashiers, of his Majesty's 
Customs ; Commissioners, Inspectors, Treasurers, and 
Registrars and Clerks of Probate. Hutchinsons and 
Olivers, Leonards, Chandlers, and Coffins, — patronymics 
which to a Bostonian of those days denoted the very 
quintessence of exclusiveness, — divided among them- 
selves salaries and honours, perquisites and privileges. 
They honestly believed that the fitness of things required 
the established method of distribution to last for ever. 
Their best feelings were hurt when a new man, with 
newfangled political opinions, put in his claim to a 
share. The inspiring motive, according to their story, 
of every Revolutionary leader was the need and greed 
for office ; and their posterity across the Canadian fron- 
tier continued, in filial good faith, to repeat the same tale 
for the benefit of our own generation. 

In their view Congressmen and Committee-men were 
" a set of rascals, who only sought to feather their own 
nests, and not to serve their country." An unlucky 
Loyalist who happened to use those expressions in ill- 
chosen company got himself inside a jail ; and the words 
have a natural, and almost elemental, ring about them 
which irresistibly suggests that it was not the first time, 
by a hundred, that they had been uttered with emphasis 


in Tory circles. According to the theory accepted by 
those circles, Otis started the agitation, which started 
everything, because his father had missed a judgeship. 
Joseph Warren was a broken man, and sought to mend 
his fortunes by upsetting those of others. John Hancock, 
too rich to want a place, suffered from wounded vanity 
when walking behind his betters in the order of prece- 
dence. Richard Henry Lee had been baulked of an 
appointment as Distributor of Stamps under the Act 
which then, and only then, he came forward to denounce. 
John Adams turned rebel because he was refused a Com- 
mission of the Peace ; and Washington himself never 
forgave the British War Office for having treated him 
with the neglect which was the natural portion of Provin- 
cial military officers. It was an argument with two 
edges ; and there is now little doubt which of the two 
cut the sharpest. What claim to perpetuity, (it has been 
finely asked,) had those institutions under which John 
Adams could not be a magistrate, and any stripling who 
had purchased a pair of colours took rank of George 
Washington ? ] Disappointed men perhaps they had 
been ; but their day arrived ; and, if they could not be 
justices or majors in a marching regiment, they both 
obtained a post for which they were not less competent, 
and became each in his turn the chief governor of a 

The Loyalists were a prosperous and enjoying set, 
free with their cash ; hearty with their fellows ; just, and 
something more, towards those who had a claim on them ; 
and very indulgent to their negro slaves. They were 
not ascetics ; and, if they had stayed in the country, it 
is possible that the march of Temperance legislation 
would have been seriously delayed in some of the New 
England districts. The breaking of his punch-bowl was 
the worst damage to his property which Doctor Peters 
of Hebron had to deplore, when his angry parishioners 
came to search his house for arms. An epitaph com- 

1 Sabine's Historical Essay ; p. 57 in the Boston edition of 1864. 


posed for himself by an Episcopalian clergyman, com 
mencing with the lines, 

" Here lies a priest of English blood 
Who living liked whate'er was good," 

would not have been misplaced on the tombstones of 
many among his reverend brethren. Clerics, men of 
business, and country gentlemen, they dressed ceremoni- 
ously and expensively ; and they had manners, and 
those not merely skin-deep, in harmony with their ex- 
ternal appearance. Dr. Walter of Boston "was a re- 
markably handsome man, tall and well-proportioned. 
When in the street he wore a long blue cloth cloak over 
his cassock and gown ; a full-bottomed wig, black silk 
hose, and square-quartered shoes with silver buckles. 
Happy himself, he communicated happiness to all around 
him. In the desk he read the glorious service like one 
inspired ; and his heart, his house, his purse was ever open 
to the needy." The Governor of Rhode Island, who was 
a native of the colony and a resident at the pleasant town 
of Newport, in the matter of a wig was satisfied with 
nothing less than one made in England of the pattern 
and size worn by the Speaker in the House of Commons. 
Green and gold, or purple and gold, formed the daily 
costume of a wealthy Tory merchant. 1 It was not all 
outside show. The more notable members of the British 
party were given to polite learning, and spared neither 
care nor money over the education of their sons. In 
that numerous contingent of emigrants which left the 
province when Boston fell, one out of every five was a 
Harvard man. The colonies, if we may trust a compari- 
son which occurred to a lady who knew them before the 
war, suffered as much, and in the same way, by the ex- 
pulsion of the Loyalists as France, under Louis the 
Fourteenth and ever after, suffered by the expatriation 
of the Huguenots. The remark went too far, and not 
exactly in the right direction ; but it cannot be questioned 

1 The Articles on the Rev. William Walter, Joseph Wanton, and Nathan 
Rogers in Sabine's Loyalists, 


that the Revolution made America the poorer by some 
elements which, during the next half-century, that country 
could ill afford to lose. 1 

The Loyalists were fully persuaded that they were 
more estimable than the majority of their fellow-sub- 
jects; and they attributed their superiority, whether 
real or fancied, to themselves and not to their circum- 
stances. They spoke and wrote of their opponents in a 
tone of class arrogance which, when once the rift came, 
made reconciliation impossible. In the rhymed satires 
and political catechisms which issued from the Tory 
press the most respected members of the popular party 
were held up to scom as the refuse oi mankind. The 
delegates to the Congress were described as pettit 

ging attorneys, disbarred advocates, outlawed smuggle 

bankrupt shopkeepers ; and, at the best, as innkeepers 
and horsedealers who had not as yet -one through the 
Court. The world was told how a bricklayer or carpen- 
ter would lie down at night, and awake in the morning 
a Lycurgus or a Solon. As each demagogue in turn, 
by rope or otherwise, went to his appointed place, he 
would be hailed as a brother by Catiline, Jack Cade, and 
Cromwell ; an ill-assorted trio, it must be allowed, who 
would have found some difficulty in establishing fra- 
ternity among themselves. History, — or what in the 
days before Niebuhr and Mommsen passed for history, 
— was ransacked for humiliating parallels to the states- 
men of the American Revolution. 

u Imperial Rome from scoundrels rose: 
Her grandeur's hailed in verse and prose: 
Venice the dregs of sea compose. 

So sprung the might} Congress. 
When insects vile emerge to light 
They take their short inglorious flight, 
Then sink again to native night ; 

An emblem of the Congress." 

1 Mrs. Grant of Laggan. She left America in 1786 at the age of thirteen 
or fourteen ; but she was a very precocious child, and grew into a thought- 
ful woman. 


The loyalist poets and pamphleteers might have mal- 
treated the politicians with comparative impunity to 
themselves and their cause if they had left the soldiers 
alone. Men accustomed to the give and take of contro- 
versy fail to recognise what it is, for quiet obscure people, 
to have those near and dear to them ridiculed and vili- 
fied in print. A farmer's family, with an empty chair 
reminding them of some one who was digging in the 
trenches amidst the cannon-balls, or lying three feet 
below the grass on Bunker's Hill, with his face to the 
daisies, did not see the joke when they read how the 
American militia were awkward cowardly bumpkins, 
and their officers scheming upstarts. 

" With loud peals of laughter your sides, sirs, would crack 
To see General Convict, and Colonel Shoe-black, 
All strutting the standard of Satan beside, 
And honest names using their black deeds to hide." 

That was how a Tyrtaeus of the messroom burlesqued 
the manly, unpretending figures of Greene and Thomas, 
and the antique worth of Heath and Pomeroy. Those 
must have been far gone in political fanaticism who 
could detect either truth or humour in such couplets. 
It may be that, amidst the distractions of the period, 
the authors of these effusions had not leisure to write 
better ; but it is strange that descendants of the Pilgrim 
Fathers should have borrowed their controversial weap- 
ons from one or another Cavalier libeller in the middle 
of the seventeenth century. New Englanders, if any 
people, should have remembered that the reproach of 
having earned their bread by manual labour, or by trade, 
was habitually levelled at Roundheads, and that the 
sturdy warriors against whom the imputation was di- 
rected cared nothing for it ; nor, when the battle was 
joined, was it much consolation to those among the 
scoffers who had to face them in the field. Seldom, if 
ever, have two assemblages of men, — divided from 
each other by four generations, and a thousand leagues, 
— had so much in common as the army which fought 
against Charles the First, and the army which followed 


Washington. Lampoons and pasquinades, on one side 
of the question or the other, were composed for the 
amusement of partisans who were prudent enough never 
to quit their own chimney corner; hut the hymns whieh 
comforted the starving shoeless groups around the camp- 
fires at Valley Forge might have been sung in one of 
Massey's guard-rooms at Gloucester, or by a party of 
troopers returning from the pursuit after Naseby. 1 

Those sorry scribblers, who constituted themselves 
exponents of loyalist sentiment, vulgarised, and possibly 
exaggerated, the intolerance and the prejudices of their 
patrons. But caste-feeling, intense, aggressive, and al- 
most universal, beyond any doubt prevailed in the Tory 
society of America; and it was terribly and quite dis- 
proportionately punished. There are benighted parts 
of the world where injustice and oppression, in cruel 
and practical forms, have survived through the ages un- 
assailed and unquestioned ; but in a civilised and high- 
spirited community the tar, or near, future never fails to 
exact retribution from those who have caught the trick 
of disdaining and disparaging the mass of their country- 
men. When once the British flag had been hauled 
clown from the roof of Province House, Boston would 
be no place for these who had hitherto walked the 
streets as favourites of the Government and hereditary 
tenants of the public offices. The moment had come 
when they must resign credit, and power, and salary, 
and all that constituted " the life that late they led," 
to men whom they disliked and tried hard to think that 
they despised. They abandoned their pulpits and count- 

1 u Lessons of war from Him we take 
And manly weapons learn to wield. 
Strong bows of steel with case we break, 
Forced by our stronger arms to yield. 

" Tis God that still supports our right. 
His just revenge our toes pursues. 
'Tis He that with resistless might 
Fierce nations to His power subdues." 

The "American Soldier's Hymn," quoted by Professor Tyler in his 31st 


ing-houses, their pleasant gardens in the English style, 
and their mansions shaded with tall poplars ; and the 
land knew them no more by sight, nor, after a while, by 
name. So far as the memory of them, even in their own 
neighbourhood, was concerned, it was much if a later 
generation pointed out their old home as a house which 
was haunted by Tory ghosts. 1 

The last days which the Loyalists of Massachusetts 
passed on their native soil were disturbed by the menace 
of an appalling catastrophe. The artillerymen of the 
besiegers now had Boston at their mercy ; and General 
Howe allowed a rumour to get abroad that, if his troops 
were harassed during their embarkation, he should 
destroy the town. The Selectmen of the municipality 
sent a flag of truce across the lines, and implored the 
American Commander-in-Chief, since the garrison was 
unquestionably on the eve of departure, to take no steps 
which could afford an excuse for the consummation of 
so dreadful a threat. From an official point of view 
there was only one reply to such an appeal. His Ex- 
cellency, (the answer ran,) could take no notice of an 
unauthenticated paper, containing assurances which, if 
accepted at the American headquarters, did not in any 
way bind the British General. But none the less Wash- 
ington kept his guns silent, and his soldiers within their 
intrenchments ; and the preparations for the removal of 
the British army went steadily and securely on. It 
may well be believed that, even in the last extremity, 
Howe would not have been as bad as his word. It 
might be argued that a servant of the Crown was under 
an obligation to carry out his Sovereign's expressed 
wish, and use " every means of distressing America." 
To set the city on fire, rather than it should be the seat 
of Congresses and Committees, and a rallying centre for 
armed insurgents, was presumably within the letter of 
the Ministerial instructions, and most assuredly in strict 
accordance with their spirit. Boston was only waiting 

1 Sabine's Loyalists ; vol. ii., p. 357. 


until the red-coats were gone in order to behave quite 
as rebelliously as Norfolk or Falmouth ; but it did not 

share their fate. In the opinion of J (owe, enough 
American towns had been offered as burnt sacrifices 
upon the altar of personal loyalty. To give the capita] 
of Massachusetts to the flames would excite horror 
throughout Europe, and most of all among the people 
who had been his own political associates and familiar 
friends. He could not stay in America for ever; and, 
if he returned to London with such a deed on his fame 
and conscience, however gracious might be his recep- 
tion at the Palace, he would only need to walk half-way 
up Saint James Street, and cuter Brooks's Club, in 
order to discover that not one of the men, whose respect 
and good-will he most valued, would ever take his hand 

1 [owe, before the war was over, had done some cruel 
things, and from carelessness or misplaced good-nature 
had excused still more barbarous conduct in others ; 
but, when he obeyed his better instincts, he was ever a 
good-natured English gentleman. Lord Dartmouth, who 
was something much better than good-natured, had 
long ago written to desire that, if Boston fell, all 
should be done to save the friends of the Government 
from the worst consequences of their fidelity. Howe 
addressed himself strenuously to the task of mitigating 
the hard destiny of the fugitives. He had transports 
barely enough for the conveyance of the army ; and it 
required not a little unselfishness on the part of those 
responsible for the conduct of the embarkation to find 
room for the Loyalists, their families, and their posses- 
sions. In order to provide storage for the effects of 
those unfortunate civilians, the military left behind and 
lost much property of their own which they could not 
pack into the ships, and which, it is needless to say, no 
patriot could just then be found to buy. The exigencies 
of duty, on a front of battle lying within a few hundred 
yards of an enterprising and elated adversary, were un- 
usually heavy and anxious ; the soldiers, as the moment 


of departure approached, were with difficulty restrained 
from drink and riot ; and it is to the honour of the 
British officers that all the time which could be spared 
from keeping the besiegers in respect, and preserving 
discipline in barracks, was devoted to helping those who 
were more to be pitied than themselves. 

The Loyalists were by no means in all cases a feeble 
folk. Many of them knew the water-side of old, and 
had secured for the transportation of their goods the 
pick of such labour as there was to be hired. Some 
of them, indeed, understood very well how to help them- 
selves, in every acceptation which the words would bear. 
A certain Crean Brush had been noisy and noticeable 
among the Tories who remained in Boston during the 
siege. He was not a native of the city, nor of the 
colonies. Born in Dublin, he settled himself in New 
York, and was appointed to official posts which, (being 
before his age,) he contrived to make very lucrative. In 
an unguarded hour Sir William Howe had given him 
a commission to impound, and to place on board the 
fleet, all the linen and woollen in the town. Brush, at 
the head of some violent and dishonest partisans, pro- 
ceeded to break open stores, shops, and dwelling-houses. 
Without observing any distinction in the nature of his 
spoils, he loaded a brigantine with a cargo of stolen 
property worth a hundred thousand dollars. The ex- 
ample was followed by gangs of seamen from the royal 
fleet, ill-watched, and sometimes encouraged, by their 
officers. The soldiers could not always be kept from 
emulating the sailors ; and for some days and nights 
the city presented frequent scenes of violence and 
pillage. It was high time to go. Vast quantities of 
public stores were abandoned to the enemy, after having 
been damaged as effectually as could be done by people 
who had begun to count their stay at Boston by half- 
hours. The British officers sacrificed all except the 
most portable of their private baggage. They them- 
selves, huddled up amidst a miserable throng of both 
sexes and all ages, with top-heavy decks and encum- 


bcrcd gangways, put to sea praying for a quick passage. 
The scene, according to the Historical writer in the 
"Annual Register," resembled the emigration of a na- 
tion rather than the breaking up of a garrison. In 
Benjamin Hallowell's cabin "there were thirty-seven 
persons, — men, women, and children ; servants, mas- 
ters, and mistresses; obliged to pi^ r together on the 
floor, there bein<; no berths." Mr. Hallo we 11, nine 
months previously, had been hunted into Boston by 
a cavalcade of patriots ; and this was how he left it. 
Such are the lesser miseries of a Revolution. 

The fleet was bound tor Canada, as was reported both 
in the city and in the American camp ; but Washington 
thought it possible that the British staff had dissemi- 
nated the story for a blind. He apprehended that the 
real destination might be New York, and made his dis- 
positions accordingly. But, when the leading ships had 
finally threaded the islands and gained the open sea, 
they steered for Halifax in Nova Scotia, a small town 
on an inhospitable coast, where the passengers, armed 
and unarmed, would find themselves hardly less crowded 
and uncomfortable than on board the transports. The 
reputation of the quarters towards which they were mov- 
ing was expressed vigorously and compactly throughout 
the convoy by means of the proverb, " Hell, Hull, and 
Halifax." l Some of the Royal battle-ships were left be- 
hind when their consorts sailed; but the captains did not 
venture to remain at their moorings within the harbour. 
The vessels dropped down to Nantasket Road, well out 
of harm's way, where they lay off and on for some 
while to come, much to the annoyance of the inhabitants 
of Boston. 

That was the only cross in their lot. Every Patriot 

1 Tt was an old Yorkshire saying, dating from our Civil War, which the 
British officers applied on the present occasion to the Halifax of Nova 
Scotia. "A cursed cold wintry place, even yet; " said one of them on the 
17th March. " Nothing to eat; less to drink. Bad times, my dear friend. 
The displeasure I feel from the very small share I have in our present insig- 
nificancy is so great that I do not know the thing so de?Y erate I would not 
undertake in order to change our situation." 


who had remained within the walls was his own man 
once again ; and the Patriots in the camp without were 
impatient to learn how their besieged brethren looked 
after ten months of hardship, and, (what to people of 
their nature was perhaps as trying,) of taciturnity, and 
enforced abstinence from public affairs and from com- 
mercial business. While Howe's rearguard were push- 
ing off their boats at one extremity of the town, General 
Putnam, at the head of a thousand men who had had 
the smallpox, entered it at the other. Three days 
afterwards, when it was ascertained that the danger of 
infection was less than had been feared, the main body 
of the American army marched through the streets 
amidst cheers and smiles ; although it was observed that 
the faces which filled the windows bore marks of hunger, 
and of the gloom which had so long oppressed the city. 
But joy had returned, and abundance with it; and 
both the one and the other had Come as permanent 
residents, and not as passing guests. On the twenty- 
second of March a great concourse of people thronged 
into Boston. They came home by thousands, to find 
most, but not all, of those whom they had left there ; 
and we are told, though we do not require to be told, 
that on that day the whole place was in tears and 
laughter. They were glad once more to roam about 
their beloved town, — their Carthage which, in spite of 
the Latin quoted at Westminster, after all was not to 
be destroyed. When they surveyed and reckoned up 
their losses, they enjoyed the surprise of finding that the 
waste and wreck of their property was not so extensive 
as seriously to spoil their pleasure. John Hancock's 
fine well-decorated mansion seemed very slightly the 
worse for a hostile occupation. "The town," Washing- 
ton wrote to him, " although it has suffered greatly, is 
not in so bad a state as I expected to find it ; and I have 
a particular pleasure in being able to inform you, Sir, 
that your house has received no damage worth mention- 
ing. Your furniture is in tolerable order, and the family 
pictures are all left entire and untouched." When the 


President of Congress came off so easily, it may be 
believed that little was missing out of habitations which 
presented fewer temptations to the marauder, and whose 
owners exercised less prominent and invidious functions. 
Even those ancient wooden dwellings which had been 
pulled down for fuel were pronounced to be well away 
for reasons connected with the future health and beauty 
of the town. Everything, to the eyes of a true Bos- 
tonian, was thenceforward to be for the best in the best 
possible of cities. A visit prompted by eager curiosity, 
and attended by well-founded satisfaction, was that 
which was paid to the British fortifications. 1 Soldiers, 
and yet more the parents and wives of soldiers, gazed 
with shuddering thankfulness on those formidable works 
which it had cost so much labour to erect, and so little 
bloodshed to capture. Doctor John Warren, who had 
repaired to the spot where he could stand as close to 
his brother as was now possible for him, has left a de- 
scription of the fortress which Howe's engineers had 
erected on the peninsula of Charlestown. "When I 
came," he wrote, " to Bunker's Hill I found it exceed- 
ingly strong ; the front parapet about thirteen feet high 
composed of earth contained in plank supported by huge 
timber." The same care and skill had been bestowed 
wherever they were required ; and Washington reported 
that every avenue to Boston had been fortified in such a 
manner that the town was almost impregnable. And 
yet, — by dint of endurance, and self-control, and rigid 
reticence, followed by strong decision, and sudden action, 
when the proper moment came, — he had made that 

l " March 17. This morning about Nine aclock there was A Larem and 
our people went into the boats for to go to Boston. General Sulliven With 
a party of men Went to Bunker Hill and took posesien of it. 

" This afternoon I went Down to charlestown neck in order to go over 
to Bunker hill. But the Sentinals Stopt me. 

" March 18. This morning I went to Bunker Hill and Charlestown For 
to see the Ruens of the Town. 

" March 25. I cooked this day. I have ben up bacon Hill this day." 

And so at last David How got into Boston, and saw the view from 
Beacon Hill on the North of the Common, — the site where the State 
House now stands. 

vol. I. 2C 


stronghold his own at an expenditure of less than a 
score of New England lives. 

The prizes which fell into the hands of the victors 
were well worth securing. Great numbers of fine can- 
non lay about in the batteries. They had been spiked, 
and otherwise mutilated ; but their repair was within 
the resources of an army containing excellent black- 
smiths, among the best of whom was Nathanael Greene, 
the second best of the generals. There were huge piles 
of shot and shells, and a great quantity of miscellaneous 
stores. Washington's quartermaster-general estimated 
the contents of the magazines at something between 
twenty-five, and thirty, thousand pounds in value. 1 But 
all that the Americans found on land was insignificant 
as compared with what they captured at sea. Even 
while the men of war lingered in Nantasket Road, an 
armed schooner hailing from Marblehead had already 
picked up a store-ship from Cork, which carried fifteen 
hundred barrels of powder in her hold. After the lapse 
of two months, in consequence of a hostile demonstra- 
tion by the Continental army assisted by provincial 
militia, the royal squadron took its departure from the 
scene. An imaginative population, on the look-out for 
anniversaries, pleased itself by remembering that, ac- 
cording to the provisions of the Act devised by the 
British Ministry for the ruin of Boston, the fourteenth 
of June, 1774, had been the latest date for trading 
vessels to leave or enter the condemned harbour. And 
now the fourteenth of June, 1776, was the last day on 
which the last of the Ministerial war-ships was seen in 
Boston waters. Then began an uninterrupted harvest 
for the colonial privateers. They made an easy prey of 
the crazy merchantmen which, as a substitute for swift 
frigates, were bringing the reinforcements for Howe's 
army. When these belated and ill-adapted vessels at 
length reached the coast of Massachusetts, the royal 
fleet had gone for good, and the whole bay between 
headland and headland was alive with American cruisers. 

1 Washington to the President of Congress; March 19, 1776. 


Four transports were captured ; and the Highland 
soldiers on board at last reached their destination, but 
reached it as prisoners of war. 1 The Patriots learned, 
with a satisfaction which few will grudge them, that the 
brigantine chartered by Crean Brush was taken, with 
himself and all his booty on board of her. From that 
time forward his life was one series of misfortunes, 
until it came to a bad end. 2 

In their relief and exultation the inhabitants of the 
rescued city were not heedless of the dangers which 
the future might have in store for them. As soon as the 
royal sails were over the horizon, Boston began to take 
precautions against the possible contingency of their 
reappearance. The British, on the eve of their retire- 
ment, had demolished those works on Castle Island 
which commanded the main entrance to the harbour ; 
and the municipal authorities now applied themselves 
vigorously and expeditiously to the task of restoring 
the ramparts. Every able-bodied townsman gave two 
days a week of voluntary labour, 3 working as Themis- 
tocles, at a famous crisis, made the Athenians work on 
the Long Walls which led from their city to the Piraeus. 
Boston, (to use a good old military term,) was soon safe 
from insult. A hostile squadron, whose commander 
was not prepared to sacrifice some of his masts and a 
large proportion of his crews, could not thenceforward 
penetrate except in a thick fog ; and even then only 

1 " June 16. This morning our Privitesters Spy a large Brig Bound from 
Scotland to Boston and they chased Them all Day and at Night they had a 
Smart fight and took them. 

"June 17. This day the Prisoners Ware brought to Boston. There 
being upwards of 200 Hilanders besides other valuable loading : 

"June 19. This morning our Priviteteres took a Ship. She had on 
board 112 Hilanders with a Cuterments all fixed for war." David How's 
Diary for 1776. 

2 After a detention of more than a year and a half, Crean Brush escaped 
from prison, and made his way into New York. He applied to the 
British Commander-in-Chief to compensate his losses, but was told by Sir 
Henry Clinton that his "conduct merited them, and more." Brush soon 
afterwards committed suicide. 

3 Travels through the Interior Parts of America, in a Series of letters 
by an Officer. London, 179 1. Letter XLVIII. 

2C 2 


with much better pilots than the class of New England 
manners who would consent to hire out their services 
for such a purpose. No admiral, — and least of all one 
of those political admirals whom Sandwich was in the 
habit of appointing, — would feel comfortable when he 
opened a sealed order directing him to place his ships 
within cannon-shot of the wharves of Boston. 

Making reference to the proceedings of the English 
Ministry, Frederic of Prussia, as was not unusual with 
him, employed the language of a book which he loved 
better to quote than to read. " When I reflect,'' he 
said, " on the conduct of that Government in the war 
with their colonies, I am almost tempted to say what the 
theologians maintain with regard to Providence, that 
their ways are not ours." And indeed they were not. 
North and Sandwich resembled Frederic as war-ministers 
even less than Gage resembled him as a general, or 
George the Third as a monarch. Bunker's Hill had been 
a soldier's battle; but the responsibility for the cam- 
paign of which it formed an episode lay with the place- 
men and their Royal master. They had contrived 
among them to bring about the discomfiture of a val- 
iant army, responsive to discipline, and containing more 
than a due proportion of distinguished or promising offi- 
cers. They had involved it in almost every calamity 
which could befall a military force, except disgrace. 
They had so managed matters that, in a region over- 
flowing with plenty, their troops had been fed from 
Leadenhall Market, as an orator of the Opposition 
cleverly and not untruly put it. 1 Burke was reported 
to have said that, though two hundred pounds a man 
had been spent on salt beef and sour crout, our garrison 
could not have remained ten days longer in Boston un- 
less the heavens had rained down quails and manna. 
And yet, much as the English had suffered during the 
course of the siege from the scarcity and badness of 
their food, in the last resort they were refused the com- 

1 The phrase was Lord Effingham's. Parliamentary History ; vol. viii., 
P- 135°- 


parative satisfaction of having yielded to famine, and 
not to force. The Government despatched three thou- 
sand British infantry to the Carolinas, on an ill-considered 
and ill-conducted expedition, at the moment when Howe 
most needed to be strong. The reinforcements which 
were sent to him from home arrived two months too late ; 
and so it came to pass that the neglected General was, in 
the end, not starved but manoeuvred out of his positions. 
The acts of aggressive warfare sanctioned or condoned 
by the Ministers were as futile as their defensive ar- 
rangements, and had consequences most disastrous to 
the national interests. They had not occupied a single 
square furlong of soil, fortified or open, in any of the 
colonies; but they had shelled three towns, had sent 
into the Gazette a score of loyal merchants, and had ren- 
dered a few hundred families homeless. They had 
alienated all the neutral opinion in America, and had 
lighted a flame of resentment against Great Britain which 
they continued to feed with fresh fuel until it grew so hot 
that it did not burn itself out for a couple of lifetimes. 

England had never reaped so little glory or advantage 
from so great an expenditure of money, and after so 
much preliminary swagger on the part, not of the peo- 
ple who were to pay or the soldiers who were to fight, 
but of the statesmen who had already begun to blunder. 
Colonel Barre, in a speech rich with traditional know- 
ledge, and personal observation, of war, declared that 
this unsuccessful effort to keep our ground in one small 
corner of our own empire had cost the Treasury half as 
much again as the operations of the year 1704, in which 
our armies were conquering all over Europe from Blen- 
heim to Gibraltar. Barr6, however, had not occasion to 
go outside the memory of the youngest of his audience. 
No long interval had elapsed since Warburg and Plassey, 
— since the defeat of Montcalm, the conquest of Ha- 
vanna, and Hawke's victory off the coast of Brittany ; 
but during that interval a process had been going for- 
ward the effects of which were now manifest. George 
the Third had at length accomplished his purpose. He 


had rooted out frankness, courage, and independence 
from the councils of the State ; but he had pulled up 
along with them other qualities which his policy, when 
brought to a trial, could not afford to dispense with. 
His Cabinet was now exclusively composed of men, 
willing to pursue ends which he dictated, but incapa- 
ble of discerning, or rightly directing, the means by 
which alone those ends could be attained. 



(See page S3) 

Eton in the Days of Fox 

The muniment-rooms of our old families are rich in curious 
notices of the educational conditions under which British states- 
men of that day formed their earliest ideas of the habitual rela- 
tions that ought to exist between man and man. Among them 
is a typical story dating from the time when the memory of 
Charles Fox was still fresh at Eton. One George Harlow, in 
January, 1779, thus wrote from the Queen's Palace to Sir 
Michael de Fleming. " Give me leave to call to your re- 
membrance an adventure which happened about 13 or 14 
years ago at Windsor. Myself and a friend went from Rich- 
mond lodge to Windsor to see the Castle. We dined at the 
Swan Inn, and looking out of the window we saw a number of 
Eton scholars coming over the bridge, and, as they passed the 
window, you, Sir Michael, was pleased peremptory to demand 
my name ; and I not being acquainted with the manners of 
Eton scholars, and likewise stranger to your quality, refused to 
satisfy your curiosity ; on which you, and I believe a score 
of your schoolfellows, jumped in at the window, and threatened 
destruction to us, if we did not resolve you. My friend told 
you his name ; but before I had time to reflect you took up my 
whip, and with the butt end of it levelled a blow at my head, 
the marks of which I now carry, which stunned me for some 
minutes. When I recovered you was standing before me, and 
told me I was not hurt but that I bled damnably. However, 
you obliged me to tell my name, which done you swore I was 
a good fellow, and offered me any recompense for my broken 
head, and said you was sorry for what had happened. I was 



lately telling this story to a friend who advised me to make 
myself known, not doubting but you would use your interest to 
remove me to a place of less confinement than I have at present 
in his Majesty's household. If I should be so happy as to meet 
your favour, and succeed, I shall for ever remember you and 
the adventure at Windsor with pleasure, and consider my scar 
as the promoter of my happiness." 

How agreeably a youth, who had a tolerant tutor and an 
obliging dame, might pass the later years of his school life is 
narrated in a letter written in the summer quarter of 1767. 
" I believe Mr. Roberts is fixed upon to be my tutor, who is 
the only man in the place I have any regard for. I sincerely 
think him the most sensible man I ever came near in my life, 
and has behaved himself so good natured to me all through the 
Remove that I shall always have a very great regard for him. 
Mrs. Sturgess is very good natured to the boys, and behaves 
herself very freely amongst us ; now and then gives a bottle of 
wine or a bowl of punch which she makes very good. I always 
wish your company to partake. In short we are very happy. 
I take no other amusement here but tennis, never enter the 
billiard rooms. Hulse is our best player. He was to play a 
set with a gentleman last week for twenty guineas, but the gen- 
tleman was afraid to play him." 


(See page 146) 
Fox's letters to his Mother 

" My dear Mother," (Charles Fox wrote in the winter of 
1773-4,) " in regard to what you say of my father's feelings, I 
am sure if you could have known how very miserable you have 
made me you would not have said it. To be loved by you and 
him has always been, (indeed I am no Hypocrite, whatever I 
may be,) the first desire of my life. The reflection that I have 
behaved in many respects ill to you is almost the only painful 
one I have ever experienced. That my extreme imprudence 
and dissipation has given both of you uneasiness is what I have 
long known, and I am sure I may call those who really know 


me to witness how much that thought has embittered my life. 
I own I lately began to flatter myself that, particularly with 
you, and in a great degree with my father, I had regained that 
sort of confidence which was once the greatest pride of my 
life ; and I am sure I don't exaggerate when I say that, since I 
formed these flattering hopes, I have been the happiest being 
in the universe. I hate to make professions, and yet I think I 
may venture to say that my conduct in the future shall be such 
as to satisfy you more than my past. Indeed, indeed, my dear 
Mother, no son ever loved a father and mother as I do. Pray, 
my dear mother, consider how very miserable you have made 
me, and pity me. I do not know what to write or how to 
leave off writing, but you may be assured that no son ever felt 
more duty, respect, gratitude, or love than I do for both of you, 
and that it is in your power, by restoring me your usual confi- 
dence and affection, or depriving me of it, to make me the 
most unhappy or contented of men." 

In a subsequent letter to his mother, Charles excused him- 
self for not having come to see his father at Bath on account 
of having spent the morning at the Treasury, and being en- 
gaged in the afternoon to dine, and talk business, with the 
Attorney-General; — a line of defence which must have ap- 
peared most valid in the eyes of Lord Holland. " If it is any 
comfort to him," the son goes on to write, " to think that his 
unexampled kindness has delivered me from certain and abso- 
lute ruin, and given me as fair a prospect as Man can desire, I 
am sure that is a satisfaction he may enjoy very completely. If 
it turns out as I am confident it will, only consider the situation 
I may now be in, and that which must have inevitably and 
almost immediately been my lot if nothing had been done ; and 
I am sure you will reflect upon it with pleasure. Adieu, my 
dear mother, and Believe me, that, as there never was a man so 
obliged as I have been, so there never was one more sensible 
of his obligations." 



(See page 162) 
Franklin, and the Signing of the T?'eaty with France 

The appearance of this volume brought me frequent private 
communications from America ; and the work was the subject 
of many articles both there, and on this side the water. There 
were those who differed from my conclusions, and who thought 
that some considerations had been neglected, while others were 
placed in undue prominence j but in only one case was I 
charged with inaccuracy in facts. Blackwood's Magazine, of 
March 1899, contained a paper on my book, not of a laudatory 
character, in which the following passage occurs. "The 
author," (so the reviewer writes,) "gives us the old story that 
Franklin wore at Versailles, on signing the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, the very coat which he wore when he was insulted 
regarding those letters by Wedderburne in the Privy Council. 
Mr. Wharton, in his Appendix to his ' Digest of American Inter- 
national Law/ has long ago, it seems to us, disposed of that 
story. It ought so to die." 

To a man at my time of life, not unacquainted with literary 
history, the haphazard slap-dash vigour, with which Blackwood 
still belabours one whom it regards as a Whig writer, gives a 
pleasing impression of the continuity of human affairs. I made 
no reference whatsoever to the story of Franklin having worn his 
spotted velvet coat when he signed the treaty establishing the 
Independence of America in September 1783. That story, of 
course, has been amply disproved by Mr. Caleb Whitefoord, 
the official secretary to the Commission, in a letter of July the 
nth, 1785. I spoke expressly of Franklin having worn the 
suit when signing the treaty of amity and commerce with 
France, at Paris, in February 1778. That circumstance rests 
on the authority of an eye-witness, Doctor Edward Bancroft, 
a Fellow of the Royal Society, and an intimate friend of Frank- 
lin. Doctor Bancroft was present when Wedderburne addressed 
the Privy Council in January 1774; and he saw Franklin daily 
at Paris in February 1778. Bancroft's account may be found 
in the works of Franklin, as edited by Jared Sparks, in Vol- 
ume IV, page 451. 



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